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5 Tips when Communicating with Women

I recently posted 5 Tips when Communicating with Men. I promised a companion post.

I should say I don’t feel as comfortable with this side of the discussion. Obviously, this is not my gender. I love my wife — and I study her. I have worked with hundreds of couples — many times in distress. Still, I don’t feel I’m qualified to speak for the gender.

My degree in counseling and experience working with hundreds of couples, however, has helped me process some thoughts about men and women and how they communicate. I wrote these, but ran them by my wife prior to posting.

As I said with the men, remember these are generalized statements, so not all women will fit in each of these. If they don’t fit with you, dismiss them. Simple as that. Men, if you wonder — ask. The only intent here is to be helpful.

Here are 5 tips when communicating with women:

There may be a deeper meaning – What a woman says most likely represents the way she feels, which may or may not be captured completely by the words she uses. It’s harder to put emotions into words. I find it important to ask Cheryl to clarify what she is saying often. It sometimes helps if I repeat back what I think she’s saying, then allow her to tell me what I’m missing.

Emotions are attached so the way you say it is important – Most women place a very strong value on relationships and people. Because of that, women may think and communicate more with their hearts. It’s more difficult for a woman to “set feelings aside” when communicating, for example. They are relational and more subject to getting their feelings “hurt”. Women don’t necessarily want to avoid discussing the difficult issues, but they do want men to consider how they say things. Words can have heavier meanings for a woman, since they are often interpreted with emotions.

Details are important if they are attached to someone they love – I always joke that Cheryl can remember where the socks in the house are, because they are worn by someone she loves. Women want to know details of a man’s life because she loves the man. I have to remember this when Cheryl asks for more details about my day. Sometimes her questioning is just so she can be a part of it; not to burden me with questions. Also, because trust develops with information and experience, and because women may live closer to the emotions of an issue than even the facts sometimes, details can be important in learning to trust a man. Knowledge and information helps keep the woman’s heart from emotions such as worry or fear.

Crying may simply be a way to express and release emotions – With intense emotions — sometimes a woman can feel overwhelmed with stress, anger, grief or even pleasure — tears are a natural reaction. Cheryl knows, however, that when she cries I get uncomfortable. Just as a man needs to learn to use anger responsibly, the same is true of tears for a woman. It can help a man communicate better when he understands tears may simply be a way of expressing emotions. (One thing Cheryl does for me if she’s crying is to release me from responsibility — if I didn’t cause the tears. That’s always helpful and allows me to better support her.)

They don’t always need you to fix things They may need you simply to listen as they work through something. This is a hard lesson for a man. Cheryl processes with me as she shares the burdens of her day, a stress she feels, or a disappointment in her life. She doesn’t usually want me to have an answer — at least not immediately — she wants me to be a sounding board as she thinks through the issue. I’ve learned that sometimes it is best to say nothing — just listen — until she asks me for an opinion. Of course, when she says “Go” I’m usually ready with the solution. 🙂

Learning to communicate better as men and women makes life more enjoyable for both genders. Most women I know are willing to admit that a woman can be more complicated to understand than a man. I’ve learned by experience that when I don’t understand how to communicate with Cheryl — or what she is saying — or when I mess up — I get tremendous credit for asking her to help me understand. Cheryl always seems patient with me when I’m attempting to communicate better. Men, it’s worth the effort!

Women, what would you add to my list?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 28 Comments

  • Samantha says:

    As a female, I can give you some tips. Lol … Be responsible, try to give your partner much more importance. When you will love her, surely she will give you some feedback. So, try your best …

  • gambler18 says:

    While men are more practical, women are more spiritual. This is why conflicts start when we try to fix something that for them is a simple way to share the burdens of the day. If both men and women read these two articles regarding communication, their lives as a couple will definitely improve.

  • jimpemberton says:

    I'm glad you wrote this companion article, Ron.

    Regarding details: I'm detail oriented, but I'm terrible about talking about details because I'm not a linear thinker and I need to be able to construct a linear flow of verbiage to convey the details. So I often pause in the middle of talking in order to put together the next sentences in my head. Consequently, most people interrupt me and don't let me finish. One of the many reasons I married my wife was because she is willing to sit patiently and wait for me to give her the details. God bless that wife of mine!

    Regarding fixing things: One thing that I've found that works (here's a fix-it solution for the men): instead of coming right out with a "you need to do X, Y, Z" is to make simple observations about what she seems to be feeling about it or how you would feel about it if it happened to you:

    "Well, that would tick me off."
    "I'd be glad if that happened to me. You must be glad."
    "I figured you would be upset, but you seem kind of happy about it."
    "I figured you would be happy about that, but you seem kind of upset."
    "I'm glad you shared that with me. Sorry you had such a bad time."
    "It looks like it made you tense. You keep telling me about it while I give you a back/foot rub and help you relax after your ordeal." (Or whatever would help her feel better.)

  • Cheryl Pugh says:

    I agree with Jan Owen. If he is silent after I put in more effort than normal to look nice or go to great lengths to make a meal or finally get around to cleaning, I assume he is indifferent. Of course, my question, “What do you think?” makes him take notice and respond with more than just grunts.

  • michelle F says:

    I copied this article for my boyfriend, who always gets angry when I ask him questions. But of course, it is okay for him to ask me questions.

  • Beck Gambill says:

    My husband and I are at Starbucks talking (and chuckling) over your two lists. Insightful and helpful points to understanding how to communicate better with each other. Thanks!

  • jan owen says:

    I'd add that as a woman what you DON'T say is almost as important as what you do. Silence is not meaningless to a woman. If she does a great job but you fail to notice and comment that communicates you don't care or that you take her for granted or that you don't think she did a good job. Silence is not golden to a woman. I know that makes little sense to most men but most women I know need verbal affirmation – and more importantly, if you don't "fill in the blanks", they will. They will assume there is meaning behind the silence. So communicate more than you think you need to.

  • Dylan Dodson says:

    I always have the most difficulty with the last point! As guys, we talk about things to fix things, so it's so hard to understand why women sometimes talk about things just to feel better!

  • Rob__Tucker says:

    The details insight is very good. I am not detail oriented, so I think I need to work on this one. But yes, my wife knows where my socks are.

  • Chris says:

    I think the last one is huge. Just listen. I am very much 'Lion." And it comes out. A LOT! Sometimes I have to remind myself, out loud even, to just stop and listen to my wife.

    I think if a lot of men would put into practice what you've written here we would have a lot of better leaders out there.

    • Paul Fowler says:

      I completely agree!

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Chris. I'm the lion too!

    • Meredith says:

      Chris, will you explain your second statement? I could be reading into what you said. Are you saying we would have better male leaders or both better male & female leaders if men would put into practice what is written above?

      I think both is definitely true. When both genders seek to understand one another & show a willingness to communicate in the other's preferred style, leadership potential increases on both sides. This information was very helpful & encourages me that men & women can work together well… It just may look different than it used to. As a woman & a leader, I regularly feel pressure to communicate in masculine styles. It's encouraging to know there is effort on both sides & that others do not think leadership & masculinity go hand in hand.

      • ronedmondson says:

        I agree Meredith

      • Chris says:

        You are spot on Meredith. Ultimately, any person of leadership is better suited if they make an effort to understand the opposite sex and listening is such an important piece of the whole package.

        In the context of the post, my answer was talking specifically about men since Ron's article was about men relating to women.

        But overall, it goes either way.

        • shukion123 says:

          Excuse me, what is lion? Also, do you feel that the male style of communicating is objectively better? Based on what is characterized as male and female styles, in my opinion rationality is going to be better. But I am a man.

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