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What He Hears You Say

For years, researchers have claimed that women talk way more than men — one oft-cited stat is that women use 20,000 words a day while men use only 7,000. But it turns out that women and men both use an average of 16,000 words per day, according to a recent study from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lost in Translation: What he really hears when your lips are moving.
You say: “Ugh, my boss is horrible. I had the worst day. “
You mean: “I really need to vent about my day.”
He hears: “Tell me how to fix my relationship with my boss.”

You say: “Hey, can we talk?”
You mean: “I have something important to tell you.”
He hears: “You screwed up, buddy.”

You say: “Oh, those shoes don’t go with that belt. Why don’t you wear the brown ones?”
You mean: “I just want to help you look good.”
He hears: “Aw, the widdle baby can’t dwess himself!”

You say: “Let’s straighten up in here.”
You mean: “Let’s straighten up in here.”
He hears: “I resent that you’re a pig.”

You say: “I’m so sorry you had such a rough day. You must feel terrible.”
You mean:“I want you to know I empathize with you.”
He hears: “I feel sorry for you, you sad sack of a man.”

You say: “Do you think that woman’s hot?”
You mean: “Tell me that I’m hot.”
He hears: “DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DO NOT ANSWER!”

Huh?!
Men’s ability to process language and understand what’s being said to them begins to diminish starting in their 30s. Women retain this ability until menopause. Source: Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget by Marianne J. Legato, M.D.(hmmmm)

Why doesn’t he see what I need?The love expert says… He takes everything personally.”If I call a friend and say, ‘I’m having a terrible day,’ she’ll drop everything and ask, ‘Are you okay?’ A woman hears complaints as an invitation to move closer. But a man hears complaints as an indication that he’s failed. He measures his very worth by his ability to provide and protect, so in his mind, if he were doing his job, she wouldn’t be unhappy.

“Does this mean a woman can never complain to a man? Of course not! Men really want to please women. All you have to say is, ‘Would you help me with…’ or ‘I would love it if….’ Go beyond the complaint or criticism and get at the desire. High-maintenance women don’t scare men. Men actually like it because it gives them a clear set of rules for how to improve, and they can tell when they’re succeeding.” —Pat Love, coauthor of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It

Why doesn’t he understand me?The linguist says… He assumes you’re trying to be the boss of him.”In general, men focus on hierarchy and women on connection. I always find it fascinating to go back to studies of how kids talk: Boys use talk to negotiate their status within a group, while girls use talk to negotiate closeness. This difference can cause misunderstandings with apologies, for example. When a man makes some small transgression, his wife might feel that if he’d just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ it would be over. But he won’t, and then you end up arguing about why he won’t apologize. For many women, an apology means, ‘I care that I let you down; I care about you.’ If he doesn’t apologize, it’s like he doesn’t care. But for men, asking for an apology is a demand that he publicly humiliate himself. He thinks apologizing is a sign of weakness, and that you’ll use it against him, because that’s what another man would do. So when you say, ‘Why won’t you apologize?’ he hears, ‘I caught you in an error and I’m going to rub your nose in it.'”

Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and author of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation

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10 comments on “What He Hears You Say

  1. I read a book sometime ago ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, which kind of points in the general direction of your piece. I recommend it

  2. its my b’day today as i mentioned in my previous post, and my exams have started and its going smoothly and im happy for ur prayers…. ayway i just pumped im to demand a visit to my blog cos i deserve it, IT MY B’DAY IMAGINE…..SO I DESERVE IT 100%……lol….thanks for stopping by anyway…

  3. @jinta: thanks@obiwanne: happy buffdaye:-)

  4. u know, i kinda feel sorry for men, reading this post. considering the fact that women speak ‘connotatively’, and men speak ‘denotatively’, e go hard to expect dem to understand us o. lol!!!

  5. @Isi: abi ooooo my sister

  6. Lolllll…interresantttt!!!! I’ve gotta share this…

  7. haha, no amount of book will ever truly bridge the dividing gap between the sexes. We women simply have to accept men for who they are. Of course some of their behaviors can be modified, but at the end of the day, you can NEVER change them, save for an act of God!

  8. @jaycee: u’re welcome to dearie@solomonsydelle: i feel guys should attempt to understand girls as dey attempt to understand guys….things work better dat way

  9. the stats are not verifiable…and they vary in lots of figures…anyway i feel bad as a man reading this…. thanks for the bday wishes…dont foget to check back

  10. @obiwanne: y do u feel bad?? dont dear no harm intended(hug)

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