Effective listening skills - men? You must be joking.

Effective listening skills and men don't mix? Is that what you ladies believe? Oh ye of little faith. It isn't us poor men's fault that you can't talk properly. This is a problem with communication. The problem, ladies, is that you speak a foreign language, and that of course is because you come from a totally different planet from us men.

So you would think the solution is obvious. In order to develop effective listening skills, we men must learn this foreign language. But the problem with this foreign language from Venus is that the words are exactly the same as on Mars. The problem is not that we men don't listen, it is that we don't UNDERSTAND what you ladies are saying.

Here's an example:

Many years ago, I remember watching 'The Glenn Miller Story' with James Stewart. There was a scene in it with one woman talking about her engagement ring to another lady.

1st lady (flashes ring): Isn't my ring fantastic?

2nd lady: Oh, it is SO lovely.

1st lady: No, you're right. I don't like it either.

This is a conversation that would be totally impossible between two men. The actual words are simple, but to a man they make no sense at all. Effective listening skills in a man cannot come into play until he begins to understand what is going on here.

It all goes back to those wonderful days, a few years ago, when man was a hunter gatherer. He brought home the bacon (actually more likely the antelope or mammoth) whilst the little lady stayed at home and looked after the kids. The man didn't need language to hunt game, he needed SILENCE, a spear and something hard to hit salmon over the head with. The little lady waited at home, not knowing when her man would return or even IF he would return. She needed to stay within her social group, and to do that she needed to build relationships with the other women in her group, and to do that she needed to develop language and advanced communication skills.

And language is just one of those many skills at the disposal of the female of the species (remember that she is 'The Enemy' in the battle of the sexes). This makes the actual WORDS less important to women than they are to men. These communication skills seem to come naturally to women, yet are so difficult for men to master, because of our species' genetic predispositions (that's right, I'm a man, I can blame the genes). Put simply, you ladies have had a hundred thousand years to develop effective listening skills, we men have only just started. It may take us a year or two to catch up.

So, coming back to the little dialogue about the ring, what is going on? (Please remember, ladies, that I am only a poor downtrodden man, so I am probably wrong about this). I think that the two women are relying on a variety of linguistic and non-linguistic cues which they pick up on subconsciously, so that they both understand perfectly what the other is thinking. And that, of course, is what effective listening skills are all about, much more than just listening to the words, and the reason why women think that men don't listen, and also the reason why men are at such a disadvantage in the battle of the sexes.

So what can we do to improve this situation? Firstly, ladies, you have to understand the importance that men put on the actual WORDS you speak, and you have to help men listen to you by remembering that we men do not understand all those subtle little signals and non-verbal cues that you ladies rely on so much. Secondly, men, you must learn to listen. The other articles in Mars and Venus will help you with the basics, then you need to look at Listening Skills

Remember guys, we men need all the help we can get in the Battle of the Sexes. Develop your listening skills and you will have more ammunition.

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