Sean Swaby admits that his wife wonders if he is deaf. Men aren’t deaf, we are just trying to stay on top of the weather patterns inside of us.
Let’s be honest, most men have a hard time communicating. But to be fair, most women also have their share of communication mishaps. So why is it that men get such a bad rap about how we communicate?
Think about the messages that we perpetuate about how men communicate:
- “Men enjoy talking, mostly to themselves. Men communicate best when they have a hammer or drill in their hands.”
- “Sometimes men struggle to use their words, even though their Preschool teachers and their parents told them how to do it.”
- “Now that men are allowed to be in adult relationships, handling money and children, they probably should take communication a little more seriously.”
- “Male emotions are simple: happy, hungry or angry.”
The Seven Myths of Male Communication:
Begin any sentence with “Men are like…” and you have just spread a myth. (Same thing with race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.) Myths are embedded with the assumption that everyone behaves, thinks or feels the same way. Myths create barriers and prejudice. Myths are plain wrong.
Are you up for a test? See how many myths you believe about how men communicate:
1. Men just like to keep things friendly. We prefer to keep our communication to friendly topics, like sports and saws. We don’t mind if you talk to us about putting away our socks or cleaning the garage as long as you smile, be nice and hashtag the smiley faces.
2. Men avoid. If men have to talk about something serious, we run for our helmets, our safety vests, or we just run away. The only places that men like communicate about serious topics is when they are in another room or another country. Safe distances, neutral zones and wifi dead zones apply.
3. Men don’t know how to say it straight. Men have a hard time speaking their minds, so we leave clues. Sometimes we leave unopened mail on the counter in the hopes that the other person will do something with it, or we leave dishes in the sink to remind our partner or family to put the dishes away for us. We communicate with piles, grunts and hieroglyphics.
4. Men don’t talk. Men like technology, so we send telepathic messages via iCloud or the Innernet. Our job is to send the messages, not to confirm whether you get them or have any clue about what we mean.
5. Men walk. Men hate endings, but we “like” unfriendings. We are pros at Ghosting – disappearing when someone is in the middle of a sentence, or in the middle of a relationship. This is because we hate commitment.
6. Men don’t like to look in the mirror. Men try to avoid group hugs in bathrooms and we don’t like looking at ourselves too deeply. Seeing our reflection in the TV is good, reflecting on anything else is bad.
7. Men have three emotions: Happy, Hungry or Angry. Men are really good at stomping our feet, snarling loudly and making a ruckus. But if you give us a drumstick, a beer or chips, we go back to happy. If we have all three at the same time, we are at our happiest. Men don’t get sad, we just get hungry.
The One Truth that Binds Us
There is one truth that rules them all, one truth that binds them…
The cold truth is that being real can be damned hard for men and for women. Most of us know the struggle to eat our feelings rather than speak our feelings (feel free to swap out eat with your favorite avoidance skills like drinking, surfing, working or TV). Truth is, men can be serious and we can be real.
Most of the men that I know are very deep in our own unique male ways.
Men have an inner world that sometimes can do it’s own thing, like an inner Male Emotional Weather System (iMEWS). Every man has a different way of deep diving into our emotional depth. Sometimes we stick with one approach and other times we try different strategies, depending on our needs.
- Channel Surfing our way through the storms. We look at the weather and then change the channel. The Walking Dead and Sports seem more interesting.
It can be difficult to make sense of emotions and it takes work. We admit that there are times that we don’t invest the time to understand or to express ourselves. It can be easier just to zone out.
- The Scientific Weather Man. Sometimes we can be like a weather man, looking inside and just doing analysis. We prefer facts and we speak in 15 second sound bytes.
We may need to be a Weather Man because words cannot completely describe what we see. We know that even if words are not enough, words can be a start of an important conversation.
- Storm Chasing. It can be fun to grab our rain coats and drive into the heart of the raging bull. We can get lost in our weather system for hours but we might have a hard time summarizing what went on in there.
We may be slow to communicate, but that it because what is going on inside is important. Be patient and accept that we feel awe and respect for our weather system. Inner storms are a form of emotional abstract art.
- Watch and Learn. When we try to describe what we see in here, it can feel like we are using another language.
We try, but there is always so much more to say, so we let the sunsets and storms do their thing. Just accept that we love you, we are committed and we are growing. Please see us for the Good Men that we are. See and know our hearts, not only our behavior.
Men are not deaf but sometimes we get distracted by our personal iMEWS. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care. Paying attention and communicating can be difficult for each of us. We just approach things differently and we get that we need to keep at it.
The best way to break some myths is to find a man and talk to him. Ask him about the myths and whether they are true for him. Then ask yourself. Men (and Women) need to have the conversation that no one else is having.
Keep it Real
Shout out to Spoon Jackson. Sign up for his Realness Challenge by clicking here.
Photo credits: Michela Mongardi, smswaby, and Bill Olson