7 Keys to Communicating with a Man.

7 Keys to Communicating with a Man. June 4, 2013


Communication is the foundation of healthy relationships, but it’s difficult to do it well, and it can be even tougher when you’re trying to communicate with a man. I know, because I’m a guy, and even though I have a Masters Degree in Communication and write and speak words for a living, my wife would still tell you that it can sometimes be difficult to have a conversation with me.

There just seems to be something on the Y Chromosome that makes communication difficult, but there’s hope! Here are some pointers for having more meaningful conversation and effective communication with the men in your life. Every relationship is different and every individual is different, but these are a few general principles that will apply to most men.

For more on the male thought process, check out this popular post on “9 things your husband is always thinking about.”

1. Recognize that men and women tend to process communication in vastly different ways.

The first point may seem obvious, but it’s an important starting point, because until we recognize that there is a difference, we’ll stay stuck in a rut of communicating in a way that may make sense to use, but may not actually be connecting with those of the opposite sex. Every man is unique (and every woman is unique), so I hate to generalize here, but there are some clear differences in the typical male through process and the typical female process when it comes to communication. This doesn’t mean one approach is right and one is wrong, but rather, both the man and the woman will likely have to stretch outside their own comfort zone to find a balanced approach to communication in the relationship.

2. Don’t share as many DETAILS as you would with your girlfriends.

When you talk to your Guy the same way you talk to your girls, he’s going to shut down. Men’s minds tend to shut down when we sense an overload of words. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “The greatest of all skills is to never use two words when one will do!” Thomas Jefferson was speaking for men everywhere. Some details are important, but try not to run off on random rabbit trails, because you’re going to lose his focus. Research suggests that while men and women are equally intelligent, men tend to have a shorter attention span than women, so we can only handle so many words at once!

3. Be careful with emotionally-charged situations.

Most guys either mentally shut down or respond with anger in an emotionally charged situation. That doesn’t mean that a man is incapable of opening up, but it’s going to happen in a different way than it does for a woman. Women can usually talk through their emotions, but most guys can’t experience emotion and communication at the same time. Once tears start flowing, words usually stop flowing for men (no matter who is crying). This doesn’t mean you should never cry together. It just means your best conversations together probably won’t involve yelling or crying.

4. Plan communication around activity.

Instead of turning off the TV and saying “we need to talk” (which is probably going to freak him out), plan to have conversation in a setting where he is going to be more comfortable. Women tend to base social gatherings around conversation (“Let’s go have coffee and talk“) while men base social gatherings around activities (“Let’s play golf, go fishing, etc.”) Most guys open up more verbally when they’re doing something active, so go on a walk or a drive or do something physical together and conversation will usually improve. Take interest in something that interests him and it will give you a new basis for shared conversation.

5. Don’t rely too heavily on non-verbals.

In our work with couples, we’ve discovered that women tend to be more in tune with nonverbal communication than men are. Sometimes, this leads to mutual frustration, because women expect their husbands to pick up on silent cues, while men feel like they’re expected to be mind-readers. Men tend to respond to bluntness more than subtleties. Be direct. Say what’s on your mind. If you don’t say it clearly, there’s a good chance he’ll think there’s really “nothing wrong” just because you said “nothing is wrong” while your non-verbals clearly indicated something different.

6. Be an encourager, not a critic.

This one clearly isn’t gender-specific, because everyone needs encouragement, but most men have much more fragile ego than we like to admit. Especially in communication from a wife to a husband, men will typically respond with more engagement when they feel respected and affirmed.

7. Don’t forget the “Pillow Talk.”

Most men spend a huge amount of mental energy thinking about sex. You will usually have your husband’s undivided attention to communicate about whatever you want right before and right after love making. For practical ways to strengthen your communication and your sexual intimacy in marriage, check out our new video series, Best Sex Life Now.


In every relationship, do your best to make healthy communication a priority. It’s always worth the effort!

For additional tools to build a stronger marriage, check out my bestselling book “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” which is now also available on iTunes as an ebook download on iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices.

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