How to Talk to Women Without Pissing Them Off

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Christie Hartman

Christie Hartman, PhD is a psychologist and author of Changing Your Game: A Man’s Guide to Success with Women.

Comments

  1. This post is very puzzling to me, not because of the advice (which I wholeheartedly agree with) but because of the way the advice is framed. I think that the title and premise of the post are misleading, for two reasons.

    First, it seems odd to me that this advice is framed as “things not to do when talking to women”. Aren’t these things that are likely to be offensive to someone of any gender? I’m a man, and I get pissed off by all three items on the list. This isn’t some mysterious Girl Whisperer conversation magic, it’s good advice when talking to anyone whose respect you value. Men have feelings, too, even if we’re not supposed to show them, and we’re just as capable of being offended when someone criticizes our beliefs, won’t admit they’re wrong, or offers condescending advice.

    Second, I think that the whole “how to talk to the opposite gender” genre of advice is unproductive, because it perpetuates the idea of men and women as different species whose attitudes and desires are wholly alien to each other. There are more similarities than differences between the genders. Furthermore, it’s not particularly helpful to say “women dislike this” or “men dislike this” because there is far more variation between individuals than there is between genders. Many women love to argue about their beliefs, and many men are thin-skinned. Do women care more about these things than men? Maybe a bit on average, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the tastes and preferences of the person you’re courting.

    I think a better way to frame it is “how to talk to someone you want to maintain a romantic relationship with”. All of these behaviors are things that we might put up with sometimes from friends or acquaintances but not from a romantic partner. For a straight man – and it does seem like straight men were the intended audience of this post – who has mostly male friends, that might mean treating women (who you hope to date) differently from your male buddies (with whom you have a different kind of relationship). But that difference in behavior is due to the difference in the kind of relationship you want, not the difference in gender.

    • Agreed!

    • I agree on that first point–I’ve run across tons of well-intentioned articles for men about communication and interaction, and they all–every single one–revolve around a laundry list of things NOT to do. Which amounts to nothing more than lists of pet peeves, something very easy to generate and not at all helpful to the target audience.

      The irony is that the articles often have titles like “How to Communicate Successfully with Women,” followed by several hundred words of how to do it wrong…. and no mention anywhere of how to do it right.

      • I’ve run across tons of well-intentioned articles for men about communication and interaction, and they all–every single one–revolve around a laundry list of things NOT to do.

        That’s a good point, Copyleft, and I can understand the frustration. Yet, when we’re working from personal experience, it’s a lot easier to remember the really bad shit than it is to remember the subtle good stuff. What’s ‘right’ sometimes just feels natural. What’s ‘wrong’ sticks out like a sore thumb. Say go on on a series of dates. Some were good and some were bad. What do you remember of the good ones? There was chemistry, a spark, his eyes, good conversation, he was hot. Really vague. You’re probably coming down from a high, as well, so you might not really remember what he DID, just that you liked it. It’s sure as hell easy to remember why the bad ones were bad. He stared at another woman. He grilled or insulted you. He refused to get off of his phone. He grabbed your boob at the dinner table (I probably wouldn’t mind this one, but it’s not entirely kosher). He gave his card out to every woman in the bar. On top of that, for the bad ones, chances are you vented to someone else about it, so it stuck out in your head more.

    • This. As if we needed more gender separatism. Good advice, horrible framing.

    • I agree with the first point. I disagree that men and women share in common more than they don’t, for the reason where there might be agreement could be due to differing motivations. As for the conclusion, women who don’t like how they are being treated have many options lined up for them to green-light. Men get to go back to the bar and bitch about how crazy women are until another manipulator shows up to try her luck.

    • Jamie jones says:

      Brilliant! I am a woman and am horrified at the gender divide in this article! Nice post!

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      So strongly agree. I had a hard time reading or taking seriously anything she said because it was framed as a gender binary. This is how I communicate with people of any gender, and any sort of relationship. And I know people of all genders who could use this advice. This is actually good advice, but couched in that old “Men and women are from different planets” garbage I think it does more harm than good.

  2. Just from personal experience, I’ve seen something interesting relating to the last one. I’m a big culprit for it actually, and whenever my girlfriend starts to talk about an issue I’ll be straight onto trying to discuss a solution. I think this is in large part due to subcultural gender differences.

    We already know that men have a lot of trouble discussing their problems, and even more so in a therapy or direct environment, so it’s almost a subtextual clue in an all male conversation group that if someone brings up something that is annoying them, they want others opinions. This causes no problems in the groups I buzz around.

    But I can’t speak for women. I’ve heard and been told that a lot of women treat talking about problems purely as venting, which is equally valid but could explain some of the friction that is being caused here.

    Maybe we just talk about problems differently.

    • Yeah, well, women telling men how they should lead their lifes and solve their problems aren’t exactly unheard of either, IMO.

      Which, coincidently, is exactly what the author here is doing…

  3. I agree whole-heartedly with the above…

    If you are going to start a conversation with a total stranger…be brief, be funny, and be respectful…if someone gives you the look that says “Drop Dead”, just take a hint and go on your way…

    If you ask about the book that she is reading, it helps if you can say something insightful or interesting or amusing….if she responds, then you might be able to continue the friendly conversation…otherwise, if there is no smile or a look of someone with a huge migraine headache, then move along….

    I love it when guys can talk about writers they are really into (i.e., Henry James can be a home run!) or artists (i.e.., very sexy if a guy can identify a Gauguin vs. a Cezanne…I married that guy!)….or music….[My husband grew up with 2 older sisters, who must have clued him in]

  4. Number 3 is how men are socialized, to offer advice when someone discusses a problem with us. Number 2…weellllll I’ve met plenty of people that say “the woman is always right”, so both genders need to drop their need to be right on this one. It’s ok to disagree, and finding a way to accept that difference in opinion is what is sorely needed.

  5. Well, I agree with most of the posters above. Many of the things that the author was talking about are common from both sexes. And regarding men giving unsoliticed advice? Really?!?!
    Granted my experience is anecdotal, and I am painting with broad strokes here- I usally see women volunteering advice to anyone on how to live their lives, how to deal with relationships,etc. Men, I believe, tend to offer their own unsolicted advice on specific problems- how to fix that whatchamacallit, telling your boss to f@ck off, etc. It’s all annoying.
    The biggest difference I’ve found (as Jake mentions above) is how men and women discuss their problems. It took me a long time to understand that women, when verbalizing their issues, are often thinking out loud and want only to be heard.
    I thought that was mind blowing.
    Now, when a female friend or relative is talking to me about what’s going on in her life, and I ask her, straight up, “Do you need me just to listen, or are you looking for advice as well?” Works pretty well, and has saved me beaucoup stress and misunderstandings.
    Hope y’all are well.

  6. Number two… oh dear. There is a difference between insisting that you are right and actually being right. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. If I am right, and it can be proven, I will not sit there and say, “Well, you have a valid opinion.” When I am right, I am right, and there is nothing quite so unattractive as a person who cannot accept that they are wrong. I run into people all the time that use words incorrectly. I’m not going to pretend that you’re using it properly and let you walk around sounding like an idiot. Would you rather I tell you that you are using a word incorrectly or let you continue to sound like an idiot to the rest of the world? Would I want to even have anything to do with someone who gets angry because I have the audacity to tell them when they’re wrong and attempt to correct her error? No.

  7. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I try not to do any of the above. But I am very frank with women (or anyone,) that I don’t think women hold any moral high ground automatically, and that I frequently think that they go too far in trying to regulate men’s speech and behavior. I don’t mean chauvinist stuff; I mean all of the “too much information” stuff or the “overboundarying” that I think came in with trying to make anti-sexism real (in a surface and meaningless way pretty much,) since the 1970s. I realize that professional women have to protect themselves from harrassment designed to strip them of the roles they’ve earned (I’m a retired professor, and have many female colleagues,) but I do think we should get back to the more diffusely erotic and friendly atmosphere of 1960s-1970s countercultural feminism. It’s great to hug people, and not to expect sex, necessarily.

    We’ve become so dirty-minded now, and I frequently fear that women are leading the charge toward the bureaucratization of everyday life.

  8. If she’s really that easy to piss off, She will make your life miserable. Stop wasting our time. Lose her phone number and move on to someone more pleasant and less full of herself.

  9. Not buying it says:

    Hmm, how to talk to women without pissing them off? ? !!!

    I suppose we have to be careful when talking to women, since direct, straight & to the point talk is too much for them to handle & comprehend, just like children !!!

    That’s the point this article is making since you never here about ” how to talk to men without pissing them off” , it takes agency & ability of dealing with life from women, sexist attitude covered up as a proper way to treat women, way don’t we call it what it is, ” how to be chivalrous towards women, without pissing them off “

    • That’s a fair point; how much advice do women seek out on “how to communicate effectively with men”? Zero; they assume they’re already doing a great job, despite all evidence to the contrary.

  10. There is only one way for a man to talk to a woman without pissing her off: Never disagree with her about anything, and never say more than “Yes, dear” to any question.

  11. #3 is interesting because I also have that problem but from the OPPOSITE end. When my partner complains about something or is in some trouble, I just listen and I’m sympathetic. Then HE gets pissed off because I’m just sitting there and not offering him advice or telling him what he should do. I do what I would want done to me in that situation, which is just to have someone to vent to and who will make me feel better, but he wants something else. It’s tough. Of course, I’ve been on the other side, too, where I’ve just wanted someone to listen, and they start giving advice. If I’ve had a bad day and I’m complaining about woman who was mean to me, chances are, I’d rather you say “yeah, she acted like a total bitch, I’m sorry,” than offer me some advice on how to start a friendship with her.

  12. Adam Thomas says:

    Just tell a girl she is beautiful and that no matter what you will do everything you can to make her happy no matter the situation. She’ll never get pissed at you if you take the time to learn more about her! :D but of course im terrible with girls -__-

  13. I read this entire article, but either I’m too much like a guy or this can be taken both ways because I’ve definitely been #1 and #2. I definitely remember arguing my father and grandfather down about Michael “Turbo” Chambers teaching Michael Jackson the Moonwalk and even when I gave them a copy of the page in MJ’s book where he said he learned from breakdancers, they STILL said it wasn’t true. Honestly, I think the person who can’t admit when he/she is wrong is childish and refuses to learn new things. Know-it-alls are annoying, too, but still. And I just dated a guy and told him astrology was stupid. Every damn thing this dude did, he swore up and down it was because he was a Virgo and wouldn’t take responsibility for his own actions. #3, well, that one is really good advice though.

  14. Can I write an article entitled “how to write about men without pissing them off”? Because I think somebody would really benefit from reading that.

    This is exactly the kind of shit women have had to put up with for years from Cosmo, etc, and it serves only to highlight why so many women are rightly pissed off.

    Surely equality shouldn’t mean that now everyone has to put up with being patronised with pseudo psychology by hacks with books to sell?

  15. This article borders on offensive. A lot of how I feel is already said above. The title is misleading, this is more about how people ought to treat each other and is so obvious I find it offensive that it pretends to be new information. But seriously… “Stand by your opinions, but let her have hers. She’ll love you for it.” Oh, thank you for letting me have my opinions and this will NOT be the reason I love you. Any man that would swagger around criticizing, needing to be right and offering advice is clearly completely insecure and won’t get very far with women or anyone. There is NO NEW INFO here. And certainly, again, this has nothing to do with “How to Talk To a Women W/O Pissing Her Off.” I also really don’t like when headlines try to grab readers for the sake of a read. And just PS– there are many ways, a laundry list, of manners in which to speak to a woman to avoid making her angry and the opposite is true as well. I’m sorry, but I find this so elementary like it was written by a therapeutic intern who does not have a lot of experience. This could be a very good article but misses the mark.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Express your opinions and give advice, but do it respectfully, says Dr. Christie Hartman.   "Conversation is tricky business. Conversation with women can be even trickier. Why is this? As a man, you have a communication style that you’ve learned and honed over the years, one that works reasonably well with other men or in your everyday life. But when you converse with a date or partner, you’re not only communicating with the other sex, you’re communicating with someone who will assign more weight to what you say. Which means it’s much easier to get into trouble."  [...]

  2. [...] Read More here… TweetPin It Filed in: News, Relationship & Family [...]

  3. [...] interaction. But assumptions can get the better of us, too. And they can really f*ck up a romance.How to Talk to Women Without Pissing Them OffI got caught up in an argument on the Internet. Maybe you've had that experience? If you're [...]

  4. [...] Check out the article here. Your comments are welcome. And, if you can think of good examples for how women piss men off in conversation, share them here so I can start working on that article. Cheers! [...]

  5. [...] and Find a good Wife”.  Another article from The Good Men Project that caught my eye is, “How to Talk to Women Without Pissing Them Off” By Christie Hartman, which touches on a big theme that will have a focus in my next book as [...]

Speak Your Mind