How to Talk to a Man… or a Woman

Guidelines for Living Daily Devotional

March 18, 2019

Simply let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37


Men and women just don't communicate the same way, contends sociologist Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don't Understand--Women and Men in Conversation.  Ever since the days of Adam and Eve, however, women have been telling us that men and women don't talk the same language. Even scientists have been telling us that there are differences in brain patterns between men and women which affect our ability to communicate with each other.  Again, no great surprise to women.  One veteran of many unsuccessful bouts to get through to a non-communicative husband wrote, and with a stroke of resignation, she said, "He has lazy speech muscles--that's all!"

So men and women don't communicate, a book contends.  What's new?  At least, an old problem is pretty well documented.  Tannen, the author of the book, taped hundreds of hours of conversations between males and females.  Analyzing the substance of conversation, she learned that men and women, having grown up in different worlds, do tend to approach communication from an entirely different plane of reference.

For one thing, for women, talking about things validates the worth of a relationship or what they are discussing.  For men, having to talk about it is a symptom of a problem.  Men never fix anything that is not broken; women feel that a relationship that is worth anything is worth discussing. Tannen writes, "A lot of men feel that a woman's insistence on talking things out is like a dog hanging on to a bone.  But for women, talk is the glue that holds relationships together."

Have you experienced difficulty in communicating with your mate or members of the opposite sex?  Make note of the following guidelines that will help you better understand the problem and how to tackle it.

Guideline #1: Remember men communicate from the plane of the physical; women from the emotional.   Like the three layers or spheres which surround our earth, communication has three levels: 1) trivia (closest to where we are), 2) facts, which usually relate to our lives physically, and 3) emotions which are subjective.  Men reach the limits of their ability to communicate when they explore physical feelings, but women just begin there and go from the physical to the emotional.  The result: deepest communication for women results in intimacy, but for men intimacy in communication is a threat to their masculinity.  Their vulnerability makes them uneasy.

Guideline #2: Remember that communication means something totally different to men than it does to women.   When I ask men to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 as a communicator, almost always men rate themselves 3 points above their wives' rating.

Guideline #3: Every person has a need to communicate, so look for the level of communication which allows the most adequate expression.  For men, it means opening up to vent emotions and feelings; for women, it means understanding that your husband may really be trying when you read his efforts as insufficient and offer criticism.

Guideline #4: Realize communication still can be learned no matter how you grew up.  It's a skill which can be acquired, provided you value a friendship or a relationship enough to work at it.

Guideline #5: Learn to pick up on non-verbal signals. There are a lot of them-- more than 700,000 ways to communicate non-verbally, says a Harvard University sociologist, but don't depend on non-verbal communication.  It's important to learn how to say it.

Guideline #6: Let your mate know your relationship is important and that you want to work on communication skills.  Charles Dickens gave good advice when he said, "Never close your lips to him to whom you have opened your heart."

Resource reading:  1 Corinthians 13:1-13

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