Using This One Word Will Make Men Respond Better To You
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I admit that when I talk about dating, relationships, and ‘courtship’ in the modern day sense, my articles are a little biased. Meaning, since I write from my own perspective, I often don’t take into consideration the fact that each of us grows up differently in unique environments and is exposed to different types of normalcy.
Many times, women respond to my articles and tell me that they feel as though men were simply not raised or taught to act in the ways that I think they ‘should’ act. This raises the problem of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know,’ and is essentially the same as asking someone to do something that they’ve never been shown how to do.
This, among countless other reasons, is why communication is so important in relationships. It’s important because we all have different expectations, outlooks, and languages that we speak. It is often said that women are more emotional and men are more logical in how they communicate, which can definitely be true – but it is also true that men instinctively want to make the woman in their life happy, and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that task.
We can begin to see a pattern that often times, while the willingness is there, the know-how simply is not. This goes for most men, particularly because every relationship will be different and he may need some help finding his druthers in the beginning.
Women may become frustrated or increasingly jaded as they meet men who are seemingly clueless, but the cycle created by this is as follows:
- Man doesn’t know how to make woman happy but doesn’t communicate it.
- Woman is tired of men never putting in effort, not realizing they simply don’t know how.
- Man feels hopeless and begins to recoil from the relationship because he feels he can’t do anything right.
- Woman or man gives up and moves on because it’s just not going to work.
And the cycle continues…nobody is at fault except for inefficient communication. So, how do we break this pattern?
Men respond differently to how they are approached. If you say, for example:
“I think you’re ignoring me.”
“Why didn’t you call me when you said you would?”
“You should have let me know you were going to be late.”
You may not realize it, but putting the focus on what he’s done wrong completely deflates him and he will more than likely feel discouraged and respond in his own personal way. Some men get quiet, some men get hostile, but regardless of how they respond to you (right or wrong) the message they hear is the same: You telling him he is inadequate for what he did or how he thinks.
Instead, consider these alternatives:
“When you don’t respond to me, it makes me feel ignored.”
“When you didn’t call, it made me feel like I wasn’t important.”
“When you don’t tell me you’re going to be late it makes me feel like you don’t value my time.”
I guarantee you will get a different response from him.
The magic word…feel. When communicating with a man you’re involved with, watch how his responses to you change when you start telling him how his actions make you feel. Since, as we discussed earlier, he wants to make you happy – knowing he is making you feel a different way will wake him up and understand the situation better. It will sound more collaborative rather than combative. It will give him direction rather than cut him off at the knees. It will make him feel like you are communicating with him, rather than pointing out his flaws.
This may sound basic, simple, or even a little bit ridiculous – but it is accurate. When men say we are simple creatures, we really do mean it. We want to make you happy, but sometimes we need a little help and patience in figuring out how to do it.
So, next time you have a disagreement or a ‘talk’ that needs to be had with the man in your life, if you typically find he is closed off to hearing your point of view when you are trying to get him to change or improve the way he does something, take the focus off of what he is (or isn’t) doing, and start putting the focus on how his actions make you feel.
See how the conversation goes, then.
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Great article. Thanks!
I disagree that this is an article on how to talk to men specifically. This is how you should talk to ANYONE ANYTIME you have an issue that needs to be worked out. I learned this exact “method” of using the word “feel” in my 8th grade health class while going over conflict resolution. This is not specific to men, you should speak to everyone this way
Hi Kristin! Thanks for your comment – you make a great point. Most articles I write can be flipped to any gender and still apply.
I think it’s important to note my preface in the article stating that many women comment with this being a challenge when it comes to their interactions with men, hence the direction I targeted it in.
My hope is that this may help some women in their relationships who are facing this specific challenge. I hope this helps clarify why I phrased it the way I did.
Thanks again for reading,
I appreciate that, I see now how your phrasing makes sense. It still sounds a bit like “how to train your dragon” to me instead of saying “people respond better to this”. But I’m nitpicking here, you’re helping people.
I agree. I learned this method in school too & it’s amazing how well it works with ALL people. I find that I respond better to others when they use this method on me too. I think it’s just being respectful.
I’ve tried to do this, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s a good tip for communicating with others. Nice post.
This doesn’t have anything to do with this article, but… I don’t know what else to do. James, I’ve read and reread everything of yours, however, I still haven’t found something to help me with my current issue. My husband, at times when he’s frustrated and bottles his feelings, projects toward me and comes across as being condescending and demeaning. I’ve talked with him about it several times, but all he does is eventually apologize and say that he’ll try to do better. But… it’s still not better. Just two weeks ago, he did it again and it flipped a switch in me. I was ready to walk away. I was so sick of it. I thought, why try when he still won’t? So, I’m asking you… What can I do, to save our relationship and our marriage? Because right now, I have no idea.
Kelly, please seek professional advice, such as in the form of a marriage counselor. This is a blog of (good) opinions, but this is not where you should be asking for advice.
Next time maybe you should let yourself cry in front of him and show him how you feel. Sometimes telling men how you feel isn’t enough…they need to see how much they’re hurting you in order to get it and change their behavior.
Something else I’ve noticed – when I ask him what he “thinks” versus what he “feels” I tend to get more in-depth responses. The guys I’ve encountered seem to do better with “think” as in, “What do you think about how our date went?” “What do you think would work to help us…” As soon as I mention feelings, they’ve tended to shut down and give me the “I dunno”.
Thanks.. I needed reminding especially being a tad passive_aggressive. 😀
I have been told men dont respond well to the feel word. Men respond to logic not feelings. No one can make you feel anything, it comes from within you. So using phrases that express a need, want or understanding not being met get to the point. When you do/dont, … I worry, get upset, want to… then state your need and how it will help resolve the issue. This is not to say feelings can’t be discussed. They need to, but it helps in resolving an issue while keeping the emotion at bay. Another thing, lettung him know when he does come through with your request to thank him and show your appreciation thar he followed through and heard you. Communication isnt just listening and talking, its hearing and following through with love and respect for each others needs.
Great article and reminder to all. This advice has been given to me by a counselor and it works.
I think this is, as usual, a great article. However, as a woman who prides herself on being extremely logical, while also being kind & compassionate, I must point out that women are not inherently more emotional than men, at least in my opinion. I think it’s mostly societal training in that women are encouraged & expected to express their emotions whereas men are encouraged & expected to suppress them in order not to appear weak. But that doesn’t mean men aren’t feeling all of the same basic emotions as women. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably a bit of an oddball & possibly do value logic & reason more than the average woman (or man for that matter).
This is truth. Men are just as emotional and irrational as they claim women are. However as they’ve been acculturated to suppress anything not fitting into black/white, right/wrong, happy/angry type compartments, they’re handicapped at realizing those “feelings ” are there and greatly influencing their patterns of thought and behavior.
I would like to expose a point. One day I used the word with a friend and the answer was “well, you shouldn’t feel like that, because you decide the way you feel”. I felt like trying to be brainwashed. Has anyone been in the same? What would you do?
This is a tried & tested put-down, Super. The person preaching at you is devaluing your feelings (you “shouldn’t” feel that way,) making out you’re wrong/stupid, and also calling you incompetent as a human being (you decide how you feel, and you’ve made the wrong decision!) This person was NOT being a friend to you.
For reference, feelings can never be wrong or right – they’re just feelings! Emotions are chemical reactions in the nervous system. You do not “decide” how to feel, you just feel it. You decide whether to act on a feeling and, if yes, how to act.
Feelings are ALWAYS informative. It sometimes takes a bit of training or therapy to understand exactly what they’re telling you, but often it’s really simple. You felt like you were being brainwashed: very helpful feeling there, give it a hi-five! The person was trying to control you in a very personal way … yes, trying to brainwash you. See? Trust those feelings of yours!
Thank you for confirming the truth! My feelings were right at that time then..I’ll trust them more from now!
James, man! What a wonderful point you make there – instead of “I think you’re ignoring me.”, if only my partner used “When you don’t respond to me, it makes me feel ignored.” personally my response to the latter would be very different and I love that! What dangerous territory you ride in mate! All these comments by ladies – ooh!. You’re someone with a very high EQ, and superb patience. Definitely a blog worth staying in touch with. thank you!
I absolutely agree James, we all have ego at different grades. Humans in general aren’t perfect, as they all, men and women make mistakes and that is part of life. The sentences you’ve mentioned would deliver somehow similar message, but will not be intrusive and push the partner into the corner. A healthy equal relationship sacrifices own ego for the sake of relationship (both sides).
Therefore putting the word “feel” makes a sort of recursive look at the feelings of the speaker, without accusing the partner directly of anything and without pushing him/her into the corner.
That way the partner would think, I’m really not giving her/him enough attention, she/he is so sensitive and I’m inconsiderate. If there is a chance to influence the relationship positively or to improve it, it is this way.
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