ASK REAL GUYS
Communicating with Men
Dear ASK REAL GUYS: There are lots of articles out there on what NOT to say to men, but what about the things that we should say to men? How should women approach their significant other when they have a delicate question that needs answering? How can I initiate an open, honest discussion with my boyfriend of seven months regarding the future, the state of our relationship, or any other topic without completely scaring him off? In a nutshell, what are the RIGHT things to say to a man?
Steven: As with any person, you should always strive for honesty. After all, trust is the fundamental building block of all relationships. But here is the deal, some people don’t like honest, open conversations especially people who are not honest themselves. Having said that, it is possible that this person may not appreciate your honesty. If that happens, you should ask yourself – is this the type of person I want to be in a relationship with? If he is not willing to be honest, can you put up with that?
There are many strategies and techniques in my books and seminars on how to be as honest as possible to ensure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible. I mention this, not because I am trying to sell you something, but to remind you that there are a lot of options to consider that are beyond the scope of my response. Having said that, here are a few recommendations:
Based on what you wrote, I imagine that you are afraid to have the conversation due to fear. Fear is the number one reason why people lie, withhold information, and don’t express themselves fully. So why are you afraid? Has he become defensive and/or reacted in a very strong or negative way when you have shared your thoughts in the past? If so, you may want to address this issue first. For example, you could say “I want to talk to you about some important issues and thoughts I have, but I am concerned you will get upset or not want to hear them.” If he reacts and gets upset, you can respond with, “Gosh, this is exactly what I mean. I am not blaming you but how can we have a conversation and how can I talk to you and share things with you in a better way?” You can also say that you are afraid to have the conversation.
Some of the other keys are to be clear and state the facts. Express what you want (as opposed to sharing a complaint). Express the benefit to him and try to at least wrap up the conversation with some type of appreciation, even if it is only to say that “I appreciate you for having the conversation and hearing me out.” When it is appropriate it can also help to remind the other person how much you love and care for them.
In the end, honesty truly is the best policy. Not sharing your feelings makes it hard for others to know what is wrong and this makes it difficult for them to take the appropriate actions to fix whatever it is that is making you unhappy.
As I always say, “If you don’t take a stand for yourself, who will?” So I am standing for you and I hope that inspires you to take a stand for yourself and what you want.