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Love Advice: Getting Your Guy to Listen

Aug 17, 2007
Women say that men don't listen to them. Men can be good at tuning women out, especially if it's something they don't really want to hear. Men certainly don't listen to nagging. They learned at an early age to tune mom's nagging about cleaning their room, and a sundry of other things, at an early age. Women, on the other hand, often learned to be the naggers from their moms. So, if you're telling your guy the same thing over and over, like he's drinking too much, or he should remember to take out the trash without you telling him, or some other thing he probably doesn't want to hear, he's probably not listening to you.

Men's ears are tuned to action words, not whining or commiserating or explaining, gossiping. Most of that they will tune out. They want solutions, not criticisms. They want to hear you directly tell them what you want, not hint at it. They usually don't get hints. Not that they want to be told what to do, but they need to be presented with win/win solutions instead of complaints. Men need to hear "command" and "confidence" in the delivery, not confusion and begging. If you don't sound sure of what you're saying, and don't really mean something you threaten, you might as well not talk -- because he's not listening.

You may say, "I tell him what I want very clearly, but he still doesn't pay attention or do it." If you have little or no power in the relationship, he'll probably never listen to you. If he believes you will stay with him no matter how he behaves, he doesn't have to listen to what you want. Not that you have to threaten leaving him every time you tell him what you want, but you do need some sort of consequence, i.e. "I want you to help with the housework, and if you won't I'm going to stop making dinner (the kids and I will just eat out).

I know you think, "If he really loves me, he should want to do the things I ask. I shouldn't have to threaten or give ultimatums. But it's not true. Didn't you love your parents, but still get away with whatever you could? And I know he's an adult, but even adults get away with whatever they can. If you are still nice to him and go along with what he wants even when he won't listen to what you want, he will lose respect for you, take you for granted, and never listen.

7 Ways to Get Your Guy to Listen:

1) Stop talking so much. Women often repeat themselves or talk about unimportant issues. Women often think that using more words and explaining something in 8 different ways will make him finally get it. Instead, it makes him lose interest. How often do you hear a man say, "What's your point?" Men tune out a Chatty Cathy. If necessary, write down the talk you need to have and edit it so you will be succint. Presentation does matter.

2) Talk to him only when there are no competing distractions. If the TV is on, wait for a commercial and ask him to mute the TV. Don't tell him something important when you know he's engrossed in something else -- it's a recipe for failure.

3) Ask, "Can you hear me?" or "Can we talk for a minute?" before you talk to him about anything important to be sure you have his attention. If he doesn't not respond with a "yes," don't keep talking. Even if he says yes, but his body language doesn't show it, don't talk.

4) If you believe he's not listening, say, "I don't think you heard me" Tell me what I just said," then wait and see if he heard you. If not, ask him to please listen carefully this time.

5) When he stops listening, stop talking. Then say, "Let me know when you're ready to listen," and walk away until he's ready. If this doesn't work and he lets it drop, say a partial teasing sentence and don't finish until you have his full attention.

6) Change your tone of voice from irritated or whiny to clear, direct, and confident. Imitate a business meeting type voice. Men are used to listening to that tone, and tuning out "mommy/wife" tones.

7) Make a deal with him: "I'll do this for you if I can have your attention for the next ten minutes." Then used your time wisely with your talk prepared and your points very clear about what you want and what you'll do if you don't get it.

It's not true that men just don't listen. We teach them not to listen when we talk too much about nothing, when we say what we want with no power to back it up, and when we repeat ourselves again and again. If your guy doesn't listen, you may have to retrain him so that he will.
About the Author
Carolyn Bushong, a Denver,CO licensed therapist, helps couples and singles in her office, on-line,& by phone. Author of: Loving Him Without Losing You, Bring Back the Man You Fell in Love With, & The 7 Dumbest Relationship Mistakes. Has appeared on Oprah. http://www.carolynsays.com. 303-333-1888.
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