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What men and women want... in communication
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What men and women want... in communication

Even the best communicators will run into trouble from time to time, and most of us could use some tweaking (to be diplomatic) on our communication skills. Of all the communication training I have done with couples, one basic tip has emerged as the most important thing to keep in mind in talking with your opposite sex partner.

It's a generalization, to be sure, but it is often the case that men and women are simply looking for different things in a conversation: Men often want to figure out a solution to a problem. Women often want to vent so they feel understood. Frustrations often result when one of the partners wants something that seems so obvious ("why can't you just listen?!!") that the other partner isn't fulfilling. The couple feels like they are both having a conversation, but on totally different wavelengths, leaving both people feeling totally discouraged and/or resentful.

So here is the tip. When you've had a long, hard day, and you want to come home and talk to your partner about it, start the conversation by stating clearly what you want. Here's an example:

"I had a rough day. I want to just talk about it and have you hear me out. I don't need to fix it, I just need you to hold my hand about it"

"I got so irritated at work today. Can we talk about it? I need help figuring out what to do about my boss."

You can even develop your own shorthand to ask for the type of conversation you want. Can we "problem-solve" and can we "discuss" can be clear way to distinguish between the two types of conversations you may be in need of.

Try it out and see if your frustrations with your partner decrease!

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