Have you seen the movie Lost in Translation? Such a great portrayal of two lost people wanting to be found and their journey into the ultimate love story. Before I go haring off into the Happily Ever After story again I am compelled to bring you down to Earth with a reality check and say yeah yeah, love the romance bit and know that it’s our human desire to want to be with each other in endless love but when the chemicals of love have given way, the art of easeful communication can often become a battle of trying to be heard and understood.
So is this a gender issue of girls just not “getting” boys or is it just the dynamic of intimate relationships that seems to throw up all the communication problems?
I have sat in many a girl circle having a laugh, dinner and chocolate and debated the issues of our men and communication and one common theme seems to follow. Girls always want to talk about stuff and the guys, well often they just don’t! You can blame that on the “boys are not meant to show their feelings” parenting styles from long long ago, but things are changing now and guys are becoming allot more heart centred…so what is the problem?
Well often it’s because shame and fear are strongly at play. A man can hear “honey can we talk” and it can instantly feel like a signal to exit the scene with thought excuses like “I am sure I need to extract some fingers nails, which is, at this moment, infinitely more pleasurable”. A guy will hear…she’s gonna say something to make me feel inadequate and a girl will hear…he doesn’t care about me. But is that about gender? Maybe, but think of a time perhaps when a boss of the same sex has asked to see you to discuss something a little difficult…the feelings that arise can be the same regardless.
Research reveals that a man’s worst emotion is shame and a woman’s is fear and all the words in between filter down through your internal database and end up as either shame or fear. So in a way we are primed to react internally according to our base emotion therefore what we hear can and does get lost in translation and what our partners are actually saying may not be what we assume them to be saying!
Women often complain that men just want to act as Mr Fix It. They have a problem and their partner is busy trying to offer up a number of solutions. What is actually tying to happen is “honey I just want you to hear me” both ways.
To help this common malaise, I get couples to think differently by visualising themselves as an island. On their island they can think and do exactly as they please and tend their inner and outer space just the way they want it. In the relationship, however, the space consists of two islands and in order to hear and understand the other they must take a trip to the other’s island to see and feel exactly what its like there. How can you possibly know what is going on with the other person unless you are fully present with them without your own judgements and opinions being thrown in?
Today’s communication dis-ease is usually because we are shouting from one island to the other. Mr Fix it’s island will send boat loads of solutions over to Mrs Heart On Sleeve’s island, but when that boat reaches her shore, it appears as a cargo load of nothing useful and vice versa. The waters between islands are often treacherous and many boats are scrambled and never reach the shore of the significant other without major distortion along the way.
So perhaps next time you hear something that looks like it could become distorted try getting off your own island and make an attempt at being completely with your partner without fault finding and judgement and really listen to what they are saying without interruption. I teach a communication technique called the Imago Dialogue that will help with this 100%. See previous article for how to learn it !
And so to nagging…a term used by many men for women’s attempt at communicating! It’s even in the dictionary these days loosely described as “to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands”. An unpleasant experience for most, although not exclusively to women, when we try to get someone to do something, with a disguise that, “it’s for your own good”. Again this is being firmly entrenched on your island and wanting the world to be according to you and incessant nagging to get stuff done etc. isn’t going to help. The word nag, naturally can inflame so it’s not helpful in the moment to say “for God’s sake don’t nag” because the relationship space suffers and so do you…pushing and shoving will only cause resistance. Again try to leave your own island and listen to your partner and if you are being nagged find out what’s behind it by simply listening. It often isn’t because you left the lid of the proverbial toothpaste!
Another factor that makes me believe that translation in communication in relationships is not gender based is that gay relationships suffer the same mis-understandings as straight ones. I have a very close gay friend who I have spent many an hour with talking about relationship communications and it seems that despite me thinking that two guys are really going to understand each other more than man/woman, this is just not the case. The same battles and rows occur and the same desire to be heard remains.
So what can you practically do to be understood in your relationship so you actually get what is being communicated in the right way leading to a more consciously fulfilled partnership ?
Become much more self aware. Knowing how you “tend” to react and looking at the results of your communications is a good indicator to know whether what you are saying is going down well or not. Invite yourself to do something different to invite a different reaction. Sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many people insist on just doing it the same old way hoping their partner will make the changes.
Appeal to each other’s ways of communicating. Your partner’s language and how they like to receive you is their business and not yours to change. The art of communicating correctly is learning how you like to receive each other not how you choose to set the communication style. There is a great book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman which gives you inspiration on how to connect with your honey in a deeper way.
Watch the words you use and always focus on how it is likely to be received. Your growth comes in your partner helping you and you them.
Guys, women love to talk, get over it!….. but then you want a relationship so providingÂ you are committed to making it work, you will need to focus on what your women needs which is just to be heard and held and often just for you to help them feel safe. Lots of listening needed!
Girls, men don’t always like to talk all the time, get over it!…..try to appeal to their way by giving them space when they need it. Choose mutually beneficial times to chat that suit you both where you can have quality time to connect. Dragging and nagging isn’t going to cut it!
If you are not sure what your partner meant by what they just said, ask for clarification and if you don’t get it try repeating back to them what they just said. It will help you get it better.
Keep away from labelling when you are with your partner. We have a laugh in our same gender circles “oh that’s a typical man/woman for you”! but in reality it doesn’t help to look at your partner through those spectacles when trying to communicate.
And finally people. Men and women are different, period, in so many ways, but it’s our “ever since time began” determined desire to be connected to each other just as importantly as every breath we take. And yet when it comes to communicating we have a distinctly different approach that really could do with some work globally! So maybe with a little advice here and a desire not to think of your partner as a “typical man/woman!”, you can start to change the world, one relationship at a time.
Blessings and love
I help people define themselves and their relationships in love. Being who you really are is the key to leading the happiest and most fulfilled life and I want to teach you what I have learnt and how it changed my life.