If you’re like most guys, you struggle with knowing how to communicate effectively and tell the woman you love exactly what you want without making her feel pressured (or growing frustrated and impatient yourself).
You’ve had so many experiences when trying to express yourself went badly, and you just don’t understand it.
You try making your point and she gets angry. Her anger makes you get frustrated, upset and defensive. When all is said and done, you tell yourself that trying to communicate your needs just isn’t worth it. Why risk making the conflict worse?
You shut down and back away from the conversation, telling her it’s no big deal.
But it is.
So you stew on the inside, growing even more reluctant to speak your mind in the future.
Thankfully, as common as this scenario may be, there are effective communication skills you can call in order to tell her exactly what you want and need, without making her feel pressured.
Every year I work with hundreds of men who struggle with the cycle described above. And even as a man with strong communication skills who helps others with this issue as a professional, I find myself caught in the same struggle at times as well.
Many men have a habit of withdrawing from conversation when the person they love gets emotional. In fact, about one third of men bring an avoidant attachment style with them from childhood into their marriages and relationships as adults.
The big take away is this — not making her feel pressured is the key to being able to tell her exactly what you want and then actually receiving it.
How she feels has everything to do with how she will react to your heartfelt message about your own needs. And receiving a positive reaction from her will give you a much better chance of clearly and completely expressing yourself, and then doing it again the next time.
Here is a 4-step strategy for using effective communication skills to avoid fumbling the ball and being annihilated by her defense.
1. Learn to read her emotional defense mechanisms
You may not like him, but Tom Brady, as well as other sports phenoms, is great at what he does because he knows how to read the defense. When you are playing “offense” and trying to advance the ball, the defense is trying to stop you from advancing.
Sounds crazy, but the same applies to telling a woman exactly what you want.
If you pressure her, she will become emotionally defensive, you will feel overwhelmed, and you will get sacked. If you get sacked too many times, you will stay on the bench and give up trying to tell her exactly what you want, and it will be game over. You will feel angry and defeated, and eventually, your relationship will take a dive.
So listen up, guys! I played college football and am on my second marriage. I know the joy and pain of winning and losing. If you follow these steps, your life and relationship will become immensely more rewarding.
Here is how you read her emotional defense …
2. Timing is everything
This isn’t rocket science. The love of your life is a human being. She has to be in a receptive mood if you want her to catch the ball and not get pissed off at you for overwhelming her.
You can tell yourself she’s just too sensitive, but let’s get real. You married her because you wanted a soft human being to snuggle with. When she gets hard and angry it scares you because that isn’t the honey bunch you signed up to spend your life with.
So wait until the pattern opens up and it’s safe to throw her your communication ball.
If she is trying to multi-task and get the kids off to school, this is not a good time. If she is trying to unload because her boss has been a bully, she is not in a receptive position. If her hormones are wreaking havoc on her emotions, you have to communicate gently.
3. Communicate accurately
Many men struggle with being able to deliver accurate communication, especially at home. They make the error of thinking their wives know what they mean and should be able to catch what they are saying, even if it’s said in gruff three-word sentences.
Go slow. Stay in the pocket. Don’t get afraid. Keep your focus on her defenses.
If she is not in a receptive position (point one) and if the timing is bad (point two) do not throw the ball. Wait. Have courage. The right moment will come.
When she is relaxed, the time is right to slowly and accurately tell her exactly what is in your heart.
Because your partner loves you, she deeply wants to respond to you. But she will feel pressured if she doesn’t know how to respond to you. Result = pass incomplete.
It’s your responsibility to communicate to her in an accurate way that lets her know exactly how she can help you.
If what you’re saying doesn’t make sense to her you will get emotional push back. She will become afraid of disappointing you, which will make her defensive, and you will interpret this as rejection.
You want to avoid making her defensive, and you will do this by speaking to her in a way that makes sense to her!
Every great quarterback understands his receiver’s strengths and limitations. You must speak to her in a way that allows her to take in what you are saying. She may need a lot of detail and you have to have the patience to provide it.
She isn’t being mean, it’s just the way that her brain works.
You don’t take a Porsche Carrera out for a four-wheel drive off road. By leading her down the kind of road she understands, you will get great results.
The “on your heart” stuff I mentioned before is not fluff. How she feels about your communication is everything.
This leads to my fourth, final and critically important point ...
4. Deliver your message in a way that’s humble, loving and kind
This one is even more important than timing or accuracy. If you can learn to speak with humility, love and kindness, she will perform incredible feats to receive what you have to say and respond positively.
She won’t be able to help herself. Her biologically wired attachment needs will make her not just want, but need to align with you.
Even if the idea you’re presenting is a bit far-fetched, if you are humble, loving and kind, she will stretch to help you.
Just like the scripture says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
So it is on you to do a heart check. If you aren’t feeling loving, your words will not be received as loving. And guess what? She won’t respond to you in a loving way.
As you can see above, I was deeply moved by a recent article in Inc. Magazine titled “Tom Brady Kept Saying 1 Word Over and Over After the Super Bowl (and Taught an Amazing Lesson in Leadership)”.
After their very hard won victory, with sincere gratitude and a warm embrace, Brady said to every one of his team members on the New England Patriots, “I love you.” Brady seems sincere about his love both on and off the field. He’s known for making public, “gushing” declarations about his love for his wife and his children.
This is not typical football talk. And it’s not nearly common enough for us guys — at home or in the workplace — to let the people who are serving us know that we love them.
There’s nothing unmanly about that!
The mark of true family, business and athletic leadership is the capacity to communicate sincere, heartfelt love and appreciation.
This is what motivates, inspires, and connects people to you, and it’s the best way to advocate for whatever it is you are most passionate about, whether a cause or your own set of needs.