I remember having a conversation with my husband where I used the word ultimately, and it triggered an argument. I can’t remember exactly what we were discussing over the phone, but I clearly remember the complete silence on the other end of the line when that word came out.

Me: “You’re quiet. What’s wrong?”

Him: “Well you said ultimately, so what’s the point of talking further about it? You’ve decided.”

Now for the guys reading this, you’re probably giving him an, “Amen, brother!”

For the ladies, you might be as dumbfounded as I was that the word completely stopped the conversation.

Here’s the reason. It’s all in the way the male and female brains develop and are wired. Women tend to talk in more abstract ways, whereas, men are more focused on what is said and the specific meaning of each word.

So for me, I just tossed the word ultimately in there because it was the first one that came to mind. For him, there was no more reason to talk further because, ultimately, the decision was made because of the word I chose to use.

No wonder the conversation stopped.

Women tend to take poetic license with words or talk in absolutes like always or never.

So guys, when she says you never agree with her, she doesn’t actually mean every circumstance. She really just means you’re not agreeing with her right now. And that’s all she’s focused on. Bringing up other times where you agreed is just taking you off topic (in her opinion), and that’s going to piss her off.

Ladies, you have to remember your guy is taking what you’re saying face at value. Literally. Which is why he says, “I agreed with you yesterday when you said….” He is actually trying to work with you in the conversation by showing you where he has been on your side. It’s a good thing to keep in mind.

Without either one of you knowing this, up to now at least, this is probably the point in the conversation where she usually gets even madder because he is totally missing the point. And he is, of course, completely lost because he thought the point was that he didn’t agree with her.

It’s no wonder we don’t see eye to eye, right?

Women use emotional language when speaking. They add extra details to the conversation, go off on side tangents and then work their way back to the original point, which might sound something like this:

“So, I was walking with Suzy to go to that fabulous little restaurant we like on the corner. You know the one, right? Oh! Suzy was wearing the most beautiful black dress, I so wish I had her figure. Oh my god, I was so hungry that I could have stopped at that hot dog cart that’s halfway between the restaurant and the office, but I toughed it out. So anyway, just after the hot dog cart, right by that lovely little green space, I ran into your friend Joe.”

Now, if the guy was telling the story, he would have said, “I ran into your friend Joe today.”

Pretty different.

Neither is worse that the other, just different in style. But it does help to know what the other is looking for in a conversation.

So, the ladies in the conversation are looking for more details, and the guys are looking for a whole lot less.

In fact ladies, when you add in the all extra information, your guy gets distracted. Then eventually he gets lost when there’s too much information to decipher what the conversational point actually is, and he tunes out.

Guys, just an FYI here, when you don’t add in the extra details your lady is looking for, she thinks you don’t want to talk to her. And you know where that’s going to lead, right?

Ultimately, (there’s that word again) when you do have an argument, he walks away because he needs to think about the problem, while she’s steaming mad because they’re in the middle of an emotional discussion and he obviously doesn’t care enough about her to continue it.

Which brings me to the next point: Why he doesn’t listen (and why she goes on ad nauseum).

Women typically need to talk out loud to work through problems, while men need to be alone to think and problem solve. Of course, that puts us at odds with each other on a regular basis.

This is also the reason why she wants to vent about her day when she’s having a bad one. She’s staying true to the talk out loud form of working through it. But while she’s venting, he interrupts her to problem solve each of the issues she brings up, because he’s staying true to his need to problem solve and make it better for her.

Once he gives her a solution, he honestly can’t understand why she’s still going on about it because he’s already solved the problem. She’s wondering why he can’t just listen to her when she needs him to.

Conversely, when he has a tough day at work, he wants to be alone so he can work on the problem. This upsets her because she can see he’s had a tough day and can’t understand why he’s shutting her out. He’ll feel so much better if he just talks about his feelings.

Frustration all around. Sound familiar?

The reality is our brains haven’t evolved super far since the hunter gatherer days. Women’s brains are on the overall more social in their wiring and they have better memories, while men are wired for perception and coordinated actions.

This is why women are fully capable of having a conversation, while doing a couple of other things at the same time, but men can only watch the football game or listen to what’s being said, not both at the same time. (Remember that ladies. Super Bowl Sunday is not the day to have a heart to heart.)

Another significant difference between communication of the sexes, is that women typically use indirect speech, expecting that her man will understand her needs, while men are direct and simply ask for what they want, and expect women to do the same.

Guys, this is why you get blindsided about being insensitive, and you literally have no idea why your lady is upset.

Let me help you out with an example.

She says, “Would you like to go out for a coffee?”

He says, “No.”

An hour later she’s steaming mad and he has absolutely no idea what’s going on.

This is what happened.

In her head she wanted to go out, have a little impromptu date, and connect over a lovely cup of coffee. When he said no to the coffee, she felt personally rejected and then jumped to conclusions about how he feels about her on an emotional level, extremely worried that their relationship is on the rocks because he doesn’t want to spend time with her.

In his head, he just didn’t want coffee.

That’s the difference between indirect and direct communication. And, that’s why guys get the short end of the stick on sensitivity. They are literally just answering the question because that’s what they actually think is being asked.

So ladies, you have to give your guy a bit of a break and help him out by letting him know what you really want.

Guys, you have to tune in and maybe ask your gal some questions to get a better sense of what she’s really looking for from you.

Knowing where the other person is coming from is the first step in bridging that communication gap, so you can feel happier with your significant other.

 

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