You are not listening


Male/female relationships while wonderful in themselves can also cause confusion through misunderstanding of what the opposite sex really means.

So many guys talk about not understanding women and being completely baffled by their logic. Many women complain that men don’t listen and ignore them when they ask for something to be done. So if they say 'you are not listening' is it true?

Over the years I have run many courses incorporating male and female communication styles and while there are a few exceptions to the rule most people seem to fall to a greater or lesser extent into gender specific norms.


Oblique requests

In a room full of delegates I said ‘it would be nice to have the window open’. Invariably the guys will either not react or may nod in agreement, while a woman will get up and open a window. This is an example of how we women are inclined to ask for things. Women then feel that you are not listening.

One incident make me very aware of how I used to use oblique language and how it influenced the actions of others.

I was in the supermarket one day and I wanted to buy some beef tomatoes which were on the top shelf. Packed boxes had been placed in front of the shelves and I couldn't reach the tomatoes.

I young guy arrived to put more boxes down and I said to him ‘putting the boxes here means that I can’t reach the beef tomatoes’. He looked at the boxes, then up at the shelves and said in a polite but slightly puzzled tone ‘yes it does doesn't it,’ smiled and walked away. He didn't realise I had asked for anything, and of course I hadn't.

Men need to be mind readers.

Guys you may have had times when the women in your life get annoyed when you don’t do something she asked you to do.

Well if this is the case it may be because they asked you in an oblique way.  Phrases like ‘that bin needs emptying,’ may sound like a comment, however it is a request.

If the next comment is along the lines of ‘that bin STILL needs emptying’ in a slightly louder tone, replying ‘so it does,’ will not go down well.

The final exasperated call ‘WILL YOU EMPTY THAT BIN THAT’S THE THIRD TIME I’VE ASKED YOU’ means a call to action. Although you may make the bemused comment ‘no it’s not, that was the first time you have asked me. This exact conversation took place between me and my ex-husband.

 Give clear requests.

Yes ladies that is the problem. The guys only hear clear requests not subtle comments. Other women, and some men, are aware of this subtlety.

We need to be clear in what we are asking to happen, whether at work or at home. So although it may feel uncomfortable to ask directly for something it is the only way we will get the response we want.

 One delegate's experience.

One delegate, who was a hotel general manager, came on one of my management development courses where we discussed this situation.

She shared with the group the problem she had with her under managers and supervisors. Each morning she would go walkabout around the hotel with her management group. She would throw our comments like ‘this room needs set up for the conference later today’, ‘that light bulb needs changing’, 'the area outside the back door needs to be cleared for health and safety’.

Having given out her instructions she would then get on with her day. Later that day, or the following morning she would find the jobs were not done and feel very frustrated that no one seemed to listen to her.

When she came back a month later for part two of the course she shared with the group how her life had changed. Realising that her staff thought she was only making comments they didn't appreciate that they were being asked to do anything – so they hadn't 

With her new communication style she would speak directly to one person, say exactly what she wanted and when she wanted it done by – and by some miracle that is exactly what happened.

Is there a solution?

So for women reading this article, you need to ask clearly for what you want.

And for your guys - you just have to try to decipher what she really wants you to do - when she makes a comment just clarify if it is a request for action - or becoming psychic would help!

If you enjoyed you are not listening follow the link to:

 Male v female communication for more page options