According to professional development research women across the country describe their most challenging communication situations and after more than 800 responses were analyzed the winners in the top ten categories are:
- Confronting or criticizing others
- Not being taken seriously
- Feeling self-conscious
- Dealing with other people’s anger
- Speaking in front of a group
- Controlling one’s emotions
- Receiving criticism
- Getting cooperation
- Setting limits
- Taking the floor
Can you relate? Albeit women’s rights have come quite a ways in the last century, the struggle continues.
I am in no way a feminist; I am just a proponent of equality among human beings. I was having dinner with my neighbors the other night and the subject of car buying came up. The overarching consensus was that women – by and large – must try harder to be taken seriously. All day, every day, I listen to women as they express their frustration with not being heard or understood by their boss, their husband, their father, or the salesman in the showroom. Much of why women experience these communication issues is that they are not comfortable with being firm in their speech or in speaking their needs. They do not want to be labeled as unkind or mean or difficult or simply not nice. Codependence runs deep in the veins of most women. God made women to respond. Therefore, even the most confident of us wrestles with how to be heard and taken seriously without hurting others in the process.
Oftentimes I hear husbands say that they had no idea that their wives were unhappy…until the divorce papers were served. The wives, however, report that they “have been telling them for years” about their unhappiness and discontent. Women tend to hint or beat around the bush. The men in their lives need to hear firm facts said in a helpful and supportive way. For example, I believe in using what I call a “script”. Basically, it is “I don’t like it when… (Fill in the undesirable behavior) or “I like it when… (Fill in the desirable behavior).
The message is clear, firm, helpful, and not offensive to the person to whom you are talking. The issue is over without belaboring the points and causing an argument. Using these scripts helps stop resentment from building up, gets to the root of the problem quickly, and thwarts days of raging silence between spouses. It also helps control emotions, set limits, and get cooperation.
Try it. You just might like it!