Sometimes in conversation, there are things you should never say to a man.
For example: When guys get together, they sometimes talk about how their wives and girlfriends get all mad when he said the wrong thing.
We joke about getting sent to the doghouse when we give the wrong answer to "Does this dress make me look fat?" or "Is she pretty?"
We'll talk about our partners giving us the silent treatment and saying they're "fine" when they're clearly NOT.
But the funny thing is, men have their own verbal tripwires that set us off - even if we don't admit it. Even if you happen to say something that gets under our skin, we'll play it off like it's no big deal.
(Chalk it up to the typical male tendency of avoiding discussions about feelings, I guess.)
And this is often why some fights seem to come out of nowhere. You've probably experienced this before ...
One minute everything's fine and dandy, then he shuts down and gets grumpy without warning.
Maybe you were talking about something perfectly neutral, like a friend of yours who's getting married in a couple of months. Or maybe you had a heated discussion about him coming over and spending time with you, but it wasn't a full-blown fight.
Whatever it was, there was a certain combination of words exchanged in the conversation that got to him, but you don't know which words exactly.
So now you're racking your brain, trying to figure out what you might have said that pissed him off. He resists all your attempts to break through his wall of silence, insisting everything's OK.
It's a frustrating position to be in, I know.
So let me help you crack this little mystery by showing you -
You have to understand these styles to prevent those nasty words from leaving your lips.
Wanna know which is which?
Let's start with the Bad Guys...
Communication Style #1: Passive Patty
Those "I'm fine" type of replies fall under this category of things you shouldn't say. A woman who communicates this way often drives her partner to play the guessing game with her feelings.
I've found myself in this scenario plenty of times, and it's NOT a fun game to play.
Since a passive communicator won't say what she REALLY thinks or wants, the man is left in the dark trying to figure it out.
Maybe she's afraid to rock the boat, so she holds back on expressing her needs in the relationship. She might be thinking that it's better to let stuff slide rather than getting into an ugly confrontation.
The problem is that it's unhealthy to cover up your true thoughts or feelings. Especially with statements like these:
- "It's nothing..."
- "Don't worry about it..."
- "I'm fine..."
- "It's cool..."
- "Whatever you want..."
These vague, ambiguous statements can be TOXIC to your relationship if you don't really mean what you're saying.
What makes these words so damaging is that they push you to deny your emotional needs and opinions. In the long run, you end up believing that what you have to say isn't important.
So why bother speaking up, right?
But like it or not, everyone has their limits, including you. Eventually, you'll crack if you let those negative feelings pile up without responding to them in a healthy way.
Some women aren't even aware this is happening to them until the floodgates finally swing open. Then they feel ashamed for losing their temper and go right back to the usual passive behavior again.
This time, they might hold back even more - creating a huge "anger reserve."
It's a vicious cycle to get caught in - better to speak up at the right moment than holding it in until you explode.
Communication Style #2: Aggressive Annie
This is the polar opposite of the passive communicator. Instead of putting her needs on the back burner, the aggressive type will put hers front and center at the expense of other people.
What's equally toxic with this communication style is that it thrives on conflict - not to mention deliberately making others uncomfortable.
People in this category think they're just being honest when in reality they're taking it WAY TOO FAR.
To make matters worse, they wear their brand of brutal honesty as a badge of honor.
In their mind, an aggressive communicator feels that other people should "deal with it" if they don't like how she acts around them.
After all, she's just being "real."
And so you're likely to hear these classic gems from Aggressive Annie:
- "It's my way or the highway."
- "This is how it should be. Don't like it? There's the door."
- "I'm not taking 'NO' for an answer."
- "It's not my fault if they can't handle the real me."
- "If you can't handle at me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best." (Cue eye roll)
And if you don't get with the program, Miss Aggressive will resort to threats, humiliation or personal attacks until you cave in. The irony is that this woman will complain that bad stuff just seems to happen to her and act like a victim.
Obviously, using THIS approach to communicate with a guy is a recipe for disaster.
This style is especially dangerous during an argument.
Talking over him, not listening to him, and trying to dominate the discussion are hallmarks of aggressive communication.
There are entire books on conflict management if you want to learn more about dealing with this. However, you can start with one effective way to defuse a heated situation.
You may not see eye-to-eye on an issue, but that doesn't mean you can't find some middle ground. Find some part of his side you can at least agree with and work from there.
Here's a good example - for his 'friend' that seems to be staying with you guys a bit too long:
"Look, I understand that you and Steve go way back. I know you're just trying to help him out because you were such great friends. It just seems like he doesn't have any plans to get back on his feet and just keep crashing on our couch."
Bonus points if you add: "Which means I can't walk around naked for you as much..." (wink)
By making an effort to understand his point, he'll be less likely to get defensive.
There is no absolute right or wrong for most arguments, but a more diplomatic style opens the door to a mutually satisfying compromise.
So, it's best to avoid talking to your guy in an entitled tone, or behaving like everything revolves around you. Otherwise, you'll end up alienating him or provoking him to the point where he'll check out of the relationship.
Communication Style #3: Passive-Aggressive Pam
This is even tricker because it combines the worst parts of the last two styles.
While this communicator (knowingly or unknowingly) hides their resentment like the passive type, she doesn't stop at that.
Instead of stuffing her feelings down out of sight, she'll keep it simmering just below the surface. That presents a lot of problems, like refusing to acknowledge an issue when it comes up.
Worse, passive-agressive communication involves sarcastic comments, saying something under her breath and indirectly undermining the other person.
With an openly aggressive communicator, at least everything is out in the open...
But passive-aggressiveness is thinly disguised contempt. And this makes it harder for guys to handle.
The put-downs and insults aren't as obvious and this person will often smile even though she's seething inside.
For instance, you'll find her saying one of the following:
- "Most guys would take out their girl somewhere nice on their anniversary, but I guess you do things differently." (Disguised insult)
- "Oh you can actually change a tire? Cool." (Backhanded compliment)
- "I didn't know we were in a hurry. Can't they wait for us?" (Intentional sabotage)
- "Can't you take a joke?" (Hostility disguised with humor - this one is particularly nasty)
- "Go ahead, do what you want. Whatever." (Yowch)
More than anything, it's the undercurrent of emotional dishonesty that gets to a guy.
Let's face it, men aren't exactly masters at subtlety, so we're often frustrated by a partner who says one thing and means another.
That leaves us with one more communication style - which is the only one you SHOULD use in this list...
Communication Style #4: Assertive
Out of all the styles, this is the one that men find the sexiest.
THIS is the communication approach you should use - but why? After all, women are taught that assertiveness can be seen as 'bitchy.'
The biggest reason is that assertiveness is a healthy expression of needs. It's letting your man know your feelings without hurting his.
A guy knows where he stands with an assertive communicator - not like the passive communicator whose needs and feelings are practically a mystery to him. Plus, an assertive woman can get her point across without having to bully him into submission.
She simply finds gentle words to use that don't attack her guy; they actually feel good to him since she's being direct without being vindictive or manipulative.
Men don't have to second-guess her words or actions - with her. What they see is what they get.
However, there is ONE other quality that makes an assertive communicator stand out...
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