In Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dr. Gray talks about the difference in how men and women approach relationships.
Whether or not you agree with the book, it is excellent reading for anyone who wonders why another person may be acting the way they do.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how Dr. Gray says that men tend to be ‘Problem-Solvers’ in conversations with women, when what a woman might really need is to just have the other person listen, without judging or trying to solve the problem. Just to listen.
(I do know men who require the same kind of attentive listening, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to keep it simple and stick with the gender roles in the book.)
Listening is an art. When one is listening they don’t interrupt another person, and they don’t try to solve the other person’s problem unless that’s what the other person requests. There are many people with good opinions, but that doesn’t make one person’s opinion better, or worthier than another person’s. I do find that if I’m listened to initially, that I am much more accepting of the advice or problem-solving modes that others may be in. When someone offers advice before listening, it’s easy for me to get frustrated, because I don’t feel like I’ve been heard. But I do understand that communication goes both ways, and that is someone is more comfortable in problem-solving mode, that it’s usually best not to try to explain too much.
Communication requires listening on both people’s parts, and an appreciation for what the other person is trying to accomplish. True listening means not judging. It doesn’t necessarily mean empathizing either, although I know that empathy can go a long way.
If you are having trouble with communication, I do recommend books like this one. Although communication between people gets better with practice, it can’t hurt to read something that shows a different viewpoint.