Tag Archives: Relationships

How to Solve the Listening Problem

Getting Men Out of the “He Just Doesn’t Listen” Box

There are some things that just don’t seem to change for the majority of people. One such thing is the idea (some women would say “reality!”) that “men just don’t listen” to women.

“Why don’t men just shut up and listen??” Is what most women seem to be saying in magazines, movies and music. Men think they listen just fine. Maybe we are missing something – what exactly women want men to listen to, and how they want men to respond | Photo by paladinsf

I think many couples never move past the issue because men actually think they listen well enough, and their complaining companions can’t seem to explain what exactly she means by “you need to listen more.”   Clearly there is a problem.

Well, I have been reading and based on a study recently published by the American Psychological Association, I certainly believe that a huge part of the communication problem, is wrapped up in the way women describe the “he doesn’t listen” problem.

“Just shut up and listen more!” may not be the answer. The study would suggest that women are not impressed or impacted with HOW MUCH a man listens per se. What matters most is first, WHEN (or to what issues) a man listens (pays real attention). Second, WHAT he feels (appears to feel) when he hears what is shared.

When Listening Matters Most

The study has a horribly long name  – “Eye of the Beholder: The Individual and Dyadic Contributions of Empathic Accuracy and Perceived Empathic Effort to Relationship Satisfaction” by Shiri Cohen, PhD of the Harvard Medical School and others.

What it says though is simple: it matters to women when men react to their particular emotions. So listening matters especially when emotions are stronger.

“Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly…Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not.”

What Does Listening Mean (to Women)

Women do not just want an available ear – they want empathy. A show of common concern. A display of feeling, felt pain, understanding and compassion.

“The findings also show that the more men and women try to be empathetic to their partner’s feelings, the happier they are. The authors suggest that this research should encourage couples to better appreciate and communicate one another’s efforts to be empathetic.”

It is not good enough to have heard what she has said, it must be clear that you have also felt what she has said.

Why Does this Type of Listening Matter

“It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times” the study’s lead author, Shiri Cohen is reported as saying.

“This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict,” said Cohen.

Its About Good Times Too

People with cheer-leading partners are much happier. Well think about it, aren’t you happy when someone celebrates your achievements? | Photo by PRINCESS THEATER – Raising the Curtain

Things get interesting –  its not just about when she is sad. Apparently people (both women and men) have a higher relationship satisfaction status when their partners blow horns and shoot fireworks in support of their successful ventures.

Another study reports that “People with cheerleader-partners report high relationship satisfaction.”

I cannot help but point to the obvious fact that the bible got this right eons ago: “Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad.” (Romans 12:15) Simple but sensible tip.

For the Road

Want to get out of the “he just doesn’t listen” box? Take this with you:

  1. Open your ears especially wide when she is sharing about her pain, struggles, hardships etc.
  2. Show on your face, in your actions, by your follow up questions, by your emotional response that you are listening and taking a real interest.
  3. For both men and women: Be supportive when things go great – when good news comes, celebrate!

Well what do you think? Please share.





‘First Impressions Last’…Because We Are Stupid

Hasty Judgement May Cost You Meaningful Connections

I think some of the most important people in my life today are people who I gradually embraced. Either I misunderstood them or was misunderstood by them at first.

An impression is “an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.” Obviously it cannot be sensible to base our relationships on something so shallow. | Photo by Adam Foster | Codefor

On the flipside, many of my deepest wounds come from people I had hurried to hug. Amazingly, the people – and there are some – whose presence I can now only endure by extremely long, deep and agonizing groans, are people who at first seemed picture perfect as friends.

I know I am not alone in this. Why then do we say ‘first impressions last’, as though it were a good thing, and build our lives around it, when a whole lifetime of experiences clearly tell us to look deeper?

Hey – I fully understand why parents and teachers rivet the idea “First impressions last”. They do because they know, stupid or not, that it is the reality. It can affect whether you get a job or not. So, by all means, go and make great first impressions.

People Are Not Dispensable

While we cannot change the fact that others will judge us by the first impressions we make, I submit that it is stupid (lacking common sense) for us in our personal lives to define the value of a person by the first 2 minute conversation we have with them.

The fundamental problem I have with this concept however is that it is based on a idea that people are dispensable. It is a cut-throat business concept. It may certainly help Human Resource Department to clear through 100 resumes in an hour. It will cheat you of the value that different and, at first, unimpressive people may add to your life.

If you need reasons (why the idea is stupid) here are some:

  1. All real people have bad days.
  2. Many people also have bad weeks and months.
  3. Millions, perhaps billions of humans, have bad years!  [Parents die.  Meaning and purpose for living elude us. People grow, mature and advance in their thinking and living.]
  4. The wonder of humanity is that unlike dogs, people CAN and DO change.
  5. No first impression is a full impression.
  6. No impression whatsoever is a true representation.
  7. The problem with marrying a girl/guy for her/his good first impression, is that you will have to live daily with their last impression.
  8. Look at how Oxford defines the word impression: ‘an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.’
  9. The habit of trusting good impressions is a silly trait in a world of lying, scheming con artists.
  10. We all have a deep, nagging hurt inside at the idea that someone we value misunderstands who we truly are/what we can truly do/why we said or did whatever.
  11. Half the list of “Great First Impression” stuff are superficial and inconsequential.  [I would love to hear the American Airlines CEO explaining on CNN after 4 or 5 pilots crash into the sea, “Gee, they all had really great eye contact in their interview.”]
  12. Half the time our own prejudices are what determine the extent of a good first impression.
  13. I typed “Good first impression” in google. Found a list of 21 ways to do it. Evaluate the list and ask yourself If you had to do open heart surgery. Which of these 21 things would help you to decide what doctor to choose.

What to Do Instead

1. Give people a chance.

Give everyone the opportunity to demonstrate truly, genuinely who they are. No timeline. No presumptions. No expectations. No restrictions. None of that.

2. Give people a chance…not your head and your heart!

On the converse, don’t be fooled by first, second, third impression. Seriously, in a world where people are taught to craft a good first impression, why would you trust your first impressions of anyone?

Have you ever made a bad first impression? How did it feel?





Tell Mr. Lonely – The Best Place to Find A Girl These Days

Why Social Media May Be A Godsend For Guys Who Love Shy Girls

The alpha male types will always boast of how easily they can approach and speak to any women “in real life.” How they know the mind of a woman. How suave and unafraid they are, no matter the girl. Chino (of Yendi Phillips fame) even has a song on it:

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Picgj30s9jg” width=”600″ height=”400″ jwplayer=”controlbar=bottom”]

Well, not everyone is as gifted as Chino (*insert Asafa Powell joke*). On both the male and female end, there can be unending bumbling over words, palms that sweat like rivers – you name it. Some people just struggle at interacting with people of the opposite sex they find attractive. Continue reading Tell Mr. Lonely – The Best Place to Find A Girl These Days

Marriage Looking Doubtful? Please Choose Option # 3.

An Uncommon Perspective on How to View and Respond to A Life of Singleness.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/johnpiper/statuses/107860033366269952″]

That tweet by John Piper on the 28th of August 2011, had already been retweeted by over 100 people on the 5th of September 2011 when I first saw it and was inspired to write this piece.

Some people, probably you, will choose (or be forced) to go the long journey of life alone. Single or alone does not necessarily mean lonely, sad and unsuccessful however. | Photo by Craig Sefton

The tweet got me curious. I asked myself “how does getting married or staying single affect whether you maximize your life?” Continue reading Marriage Looking Doubtful? Please Choose Option # 3.

FYI Ladies: The Men Most Likely to Propose Are 30 and Older

I’ve heard countless females complain about how distressed they are that when it comes to serious relationships, the men in their circle are a bunch of jokers.  Many only find out after already investing way too much time, energy and interest that their Mr. Right has absolutely no plans to seriously commit or marry.

Sometimes its about how you play your cards! | erin MC hammer

Well, if you don’t want to waste your time, it would help to know in advance which group of guys are least likely to settle and which guys are just about bursting to propose at any moment. Continue reading FYI Ladies: The Men Most Likely to Propose Are 30 and Older