Picture the scene. You get home from a hard day at the office and all you want to do is flop in front of the TV for half an hour. On the other hand, your wife has been out at work and when she comes home she wants to tell you all about her day, who said what and in the end, what happened.
Recognize what I'm saying? I guess most people will because this situation and why it arises is well documented, going all the way back to pre-historic times. Man, the hunter gatherer, is happy to sit in silence for long periods of time waiting to trap his prey, he only needs to expend a few hundred words in a day to feel fulfilled. After a 21st century day were the importance of communication in business is stressed, is it any wonder that he does not want to talk.
Prehistoric woman on the other hand remained in camp with all the other women and children doing boring repetitive work and to relive the boredom, the natural thing was to talk. Evolution has eliminated women the hand that they are much more comfortable being able to talk than in silence. Depending on the 21st century job being done a woman is only going to be able to expend so many words and may not feel comfortable at the end of the day. Consider a stay at home Mom …. is it any wonder that when her man comes home she wants to talk.
Now I'm not being sexist, this is well documented and I've read about it in many books, if you've offended it's probably because I have not explained myself as eloquently as some might. After all, I am a man of few words.
If we accept what I've said and I'm sure there will be many who can empathise, effectively what we have is a recipe for conflict at the end of a busy day when everyone is tired. Is it any wonder that this leads to arguments? The best thing a man can do (as I do) is understand this point, accept it and do something about it. In other words plan the work into the daily routine – "At the end of the day when I get home from work I'm going to plan some time to spend with my wife, listening to her". If you plan it, it is not half as bad!
More important than everything that I've planned is when I listen, to show that I'm listening – I found out this bit in some life coaching information on the web. I read it and took it to heart and now I can communicate so much better.
I developed 3 effective listening skills: –
- The first is that I encourage my wife to talk. By interjecting in the conversation with words like "I see" or even plain simple "uh-huh" or "okay" I give the perception that I'm listening and understanding what's been said. It also helps the conversation flow.
- I precis certain words and speak them back. In other words, same the same thing but in a different way and this helps my wife feel comfortable that she is again being listened to but most importantly she is being understood.
- Occasional I summarize what's being said. Perhaps at the end of a particular story and this has the effect of confirming the fact that I've been listening.
It all works very well for me provided I stick to the guidelines and I'm patient. If I'm particularly tired and try to hurry the process along this is the equivalent of taking one step forward and two steps back.
So that's it. Plan to spend half an hour using these active listening techniques with your wife at the end of the day and you'll find that it's 30 minutes well spent because in return you'll get peace and quiet for the rest of the evening and you can have your own "cave time" watching the ball game on TV.