Four Words Guaranteed to Send Men Running

This conversation starter doesn't create the mood we intend.

This conversation starter doesn’t create the mood we intend.

Ladies, it’s true. We grew up hearing adult women say to their men, “We need to talk,” but I’m here to say don’t do it! Popular belief was that these words would be a good introduction to talk through an issue, handle a concern, or establish more connection.

No matter how many times you’ve heard this phrase, or how easy it would be to say, or that some people actually recommend saying, “We need to talk,” to initiate a tough conversation, I’m saying ABSOLUTELY NOT! Not today, not in the future, not ever. No. No. No.

Unequivocally, saying “We need to talk” will send men running—the other direction.

If your mind keeps telling you to say these words, promise me you won’t let them across your lips to be spoken out loud.

I get that you might not believe me. And I will admit, I once used them, too. But over time, I learned these words inspire dread in the hearts of men of all ages. These words are a sounding alarm.

And here’s what that alarm signifies for men:                     We-need-to-talk

  • Be on guard. Bad news is on the way
  • Get ready for tears and emotions
  • This is not going to be pretty
  • You’re going to hear what you did wrong or didn’t do at all
  • This conversation will definitely last longer than you hope
  • You probably will have to talk about things you’d prefer not to discuss

A study at the University of Missouri found that boys have different feelings about time spent discussing problems than girls do. For boys “talking about problems makes them feel “weird” and feels like they are “wasting time.” It should come as no surprise this belief carries over into adulthood for guys.

shutdown

Constructive conversation has no chance now.

According to Good Men Know the Real Meaning of We Need to Talk  

“…when we hear those dreaded words, we “shut down” because we feel like the student in the class who hears his teacher say, “I need to see you after class.” When the teacher says that, we KNOW we are in trouble. And when you say, “We need to talk,” we know there is an issue you want to scold us about.

Rather than fall back on this familiar, but oh-so-wrong way to start a conversation with a man, try these guidelines instead:

  • If your intention is not resolution and understanding, don’t begin the talk
  • Don’t initiate “the conversation” if you aren’t ready to talk right then!
  • Check any “tone and attitude” at the door, or wait till you are attitude-free
  • Remember, serious, meaningful conversation doesn’t require drama and heaviness
  • Cut what you want to say in half
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Commit to yourself that you will identify some part of the issue as yours and own it…
  • Be prepared to move on when the conversation is done

When you’re set with all of the above, select a more neutral way to start your conversation than saying “WE NEED TO TALK!”

Instead, casually say things like:

  •     “Let’s talk about this”
  •     “Let’s talk this through real quick”
  •     “What are your thoughts on this?”
  •     “Really briefly, I want you to know how I feel about….,
  •     “Can you clarify something for me?
  •     “Unlike how I’ve been in the past, I just want to discuss this briefly.”
  •     “Real quick…I  think ___________. What about you?”

 

For a really powerful change, DON’T use an opener at all. Just say what you need to say. No long detailed, set-the-stage windup, no long dramatic lead in, just talk. Say it as succinctly, with as few sentences as possible and the least amount of detail to say what NEEDS to be said, getting right to the point. It’s called “boy talk.” If you get no response and the conversation calls for one, ask what his reaction is. Otherwise, say what needs to be said. Thank him for listening and be done.

Instead of having the conversation or your relationship blow up, you’ll blow your man’s mind because you were able to talk without making it into a movie melodrama or mini-series.

Stay tuned for more about “boy talk” and what that looks like. And as always, through a post or private message, let me know what you experience with this approach.

And, repeat after me, “I promise to never initiate a conversation with a man in my life with the words WE NEED TO TALK.”

The Way to Say It Tips: Replace “but” with “and”

Your meaning completely changes when you use "but" to connect your thoughts.

Your meaning completely changes when you use “but” to connect your thoughts.

Ever listen to how most of us speak? Day in and day out, we connect our thoughts with “but”. In fact, it’s so common we barely hear ourselves say it.  That is, unless we are on the receiving end. Then the word “but” seems to jump out at us.  See how these statements feel:

I love the design you created but I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.

You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, but I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.

I understand your feelings, but I’d like to tell you how I feel.

Now, check out the same statements using “and” instead of “but” to connect the thoughts:

I love the design you created AND I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.

You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, AND I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.

I understand your feelings, AND I’d like to tell you how I feel.

The difference is subtle, but not so subtle that we don’t get the message.  It  feels corrective. It brings up defensiveness. Use of the word “but” negates what was said before it.  And THAT is the what we react to. THAT is what makes us feel let down . We hear only the negative and throw out every positive word that preceded the “but.”

Connecting our thoughts with “but” is easy. It flows off our tongues without a thought. BUT, connecting thoughts with “and” gives a completely different meaning.  By substituting “and” instead, we convey positive thoughts and reduce the tendency for others to react with defensiveness or explanation.

If both of your statements are true and neither one is meant to contradict the other, then try “and.” Need proof?  For the next few days, tune in for the word “but.”  Hear it. Hear yourself say it.  Listen for it in conversation. Every time you hear it, mentally substitute “and” in its place. Then notice the difference. It’s a small shift in communications that makes a remarkable difference in meaning and interpretation.