As you know I am all about words making a huge difference in our feelings and our behavior. The way we talk to ourselves really influences whether our rebel energy gets triggered by “shoulding” ourselves or whether we can move into experimenting with something different.
I learned about Alison Armstrong this weekend and found her take on the words women use while communicating with men as big interrupters in communication between the sexes as something worth exploring.
Alison suggests that one reason may be because women avoid using men’s words:
Case in point: Women never have problems. Oh, no, no, no. You will not catch us with a problem. Problems are taboo. Instead, we have issues, concerns, complaints, challenges and things we need to talk about. These are the words we use instead of saying, “I have a problem.”
Thinking about and solving problems is a behavior that men feel comfortable doing. Sometimes the best support we can get from men or women is someone who will help us clarify a problem and brainstorm solutions. Problem solving can move us from ruminating (going over the issue again and again in our heads) to figuring out the first steps to take action.
If you are interested in learning more about the loaded value that words can have, it might be interesting to try this experiment that Alison Armstrong suggests:
Interview the men in your life about all of the above words. Ask them what each word means to them and whether it makes them want to act… or something else entirely.
Often times finding a common language is the starting point for reciprocal communication.
Do you agree on Allison’s views on communicating with men? What language changes could you experiment with that might strengthen communication between yourself and the men in your life, be it partners, colleagues, friends or sibs?