Monday, August 1, 2011


I would like to believe that, on the whole, I am better than average at knowing how to speak to a man. I am pretty good at explaining the differences in the genders when doing my seminars. I can carry on an easy conversation with most men because I understand what they like to talk about. And since one of my missions is to challenge women to appreciate the men in their lives, I actively try to learn more about the way men process information. In a nutshell – I get guys.
But every once in a while, I revert lock, stock and barrel to being a stereotypical girl. Recently, I had one of these moments.
The day had started out very well. Since Eric and I are new to Ontario, we called up the one friend we have out East and decided to go out for breakfast together. This is a young guy who is seriously dating a girl but very much still a bachelor. He exists in that space of wanting to learn about women because he really digs this chick, but hasn’t quite achieved bilingualism in both the guy- and girl-speak.  He’s trying to learn the language, but isn’t yet fluent.
He also introduced us to his roommate – another bachelor – who while he isn’t currently working on a relationship with a woman, he is in the midst of doing his PhD. (One could argue that this is a relationship in and of itself). You might say that he is a serious intellectual, but has not even enrolled in the girl-speak classes yet. Not that I am knocking on the guy. Heck, I felt my IQ rise just by hanging out with him.
Breakfast was fabulous. We were introduced to the amazing Cora‘s restaurant at which I promptly gorged myself on a Brie and Mushroom Eggs Benedict – delicious! The conversation was the perfect blend of intellectualism meets smart-ass. Just how I like it.
As we were leaving the restaurant, however, I noticed that there was a hair salon open right next door which carried the brand of hair product that I use. I had been out of my favourite product for a week and was desperate to track it down in Toronto. I ducked into the store (but alas, I did not find the product), and as I rejoined our friends, I launched into a detailed explanation as to why I had to track down that particular product. V-e-r-y detailed.
As I continued, both guys, who up to this point had been engaged in constant dialogue and banter with me, gave me completely blank looks. It was like the whole scene geared down into slow motion and you could see the Blink*Blink*Blink of their eyes.
To my complete and utter horror, I realized that I was talking in-depth “girl-speak” to two bachelors.  They had no idea how to respond to me. I might as well had been speaking Klingon (wait…scratch that…at least one of them is probably fluent in that).
Thankfully, my husband (who no doubt felt pity on me because I had been without female companionship for weeks) brought the conversation back onto a gender-neutral track and we finished our time together well.
As I laughed at myself later, it occurred to me that very often, we do the same thing in our relationships. We can think we are communicating with each other, but  in reality we are speaking another language.
Unfortunately, women are particularly fond of equating “talking” with “communication”. Men do not define the latter so rigidly. Communication to a man can hanging out with their buddies on a golf course, or watching a game, or sitting silently in a duck blind. That is communication. There doesn’t need to be talk.
I have a vivid memory of asking my husband how his day of golf with a friend had gone. “What did you talk about?” I asked. “Not much,” was his response. “In fact, at the end of the day, my buddy said to me – it is so great to hang out and not have to talk.” They had bonded, they had communicated, but there had not been much conversation.
For women, this seems crazy. If we have more than a 4 second lull in conversation, we feel that we aren’t “connecting” with each other.
It is not that one form of communication is superior to another…they are just different.
I think that the goal of your relationship should not be to make your partner speak your language but to become a bilingual couple. You should be able to fluidly switch back and forth from guy-speak to girl-speak. Sometimes you respect the connection found in a non-verbal golf game and sometimes you cover for your wife speaking a foreign language to two bachelors – that way you know that are always going to truly be communicating.
How about you?  Are you fluent in your lover’s preferred communication style?

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