When you want your man to just listen and be understanding, does he interrupt and go into ‘Mr. Fix-It’ mode? If so, you’re not alone. Many men find it frustrating to simply listen to problems without attempting to solve them. This issue, however, is easily remedied in a few easy steps.
1. Prepare him: The military uses preparatory commands to help everyone stay in unison. Rather than launching into a problem out of the blue, give him some sort of signal to prepare him. “I had a terrible day. Can I talk to you about it? I really need someone to just listen so I can express it and let it go.” Even if he’s not thrilled at the idea of listening to you, he will likely consent because men are natural providers and he will want to provide you with relief.
2. Make the goal clear: Another thing the military does is it makes the mission known. Men like a target and a clear outcome. Tell him exactly what you need him to do and make the goal clear. “I love it when you just listen and let me unload my day with you.”
3. Keep it short: If he’s like most men, he will find it difficult and frustrating to withhold solutions that he has in mind for you, so make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult by keeping your sharing short. Many men are genuinely puzzled at a woman’s need to share problems without solving them. However, once a man recognizes that carrying around the problem IS her problem, he can truly become a great listener. When he makes you happy by doing “nothing” (empathizing) rather than doing “something” (fixing) he will gladly oblige you with this new goal in mind.
4. If he gets off track, remind him of the goal: Don’t be discouraged if he starts problem- solving for you. This could be a sign that you’ve gone on too long. Remember that most of men’s professions are designed around solving problems and he naturally wants to solve yours because he is trying to provide help. Remind him that listening without solving DOES help you and quickly wrap up your sharing so he can succeed. It’s important to leave things on a good note. Wrap it up and save the details for your girlfriends later.
5. Let him know he succeeded: Honestly, most men don’t care that much about your problems or hearing about your day, but they do care about YOU. This final step is the most important one. Once he’s listened, be sure to reinforce his efforts with your appreciation. “Thank you so much. I feel so much better now.” A few moments earlier you were the damsel in distress and your big, strong man has just rescued you from your emotions. Make sure he knows it. Hug him. Kiss him. Let out a sigh of relief. Do something, but be sure it’s obvious that he just hit a home run with you!