A friend recently gave me a great idea. He thought I should post on the idea that men sometimes don’t know what to do or say when women get upset. He thought that men who do not consider themselves emotional have a hard time empathizing or dealing with women who are upset emotionally, especially if they are in a relationship with those women.
I can say two things about this phenomenon: practice deep listening, and don’t try to fix anything yet. Try to not be logical for once.
Men are notorious in their desire to fix a situation, and when this happens, deep listening cannot happen. We are fixers by nature, and this trait is good, when it comes to hunting big game, fixing a car engine, or making everyday decisions. It is a hinderance when it comes to connecting with the women in our life.
We run from, try to fix, avoid, lack empathy or do a thousand others things when the women in our lives get “emotional” because we are not in touch with those similar places within ourselves. The more we, as men, can get in touch with those emotional places (no, you won’t be crying or overly sensitive from now on), the quicker we will be able to connect and empathize with what women are experiencing emotionally.
Issues that come up for women in the context of a relationship will require the skill of both deep listening and suspending trying to fix anything. What is ideal is to listen and reflect back what you are hearing from the women as she is having her emotional experience. If she is crying, or upset, it might help to just be silent and be aware of your tendency to fix anything. When she starts to talk, simply reflect back what you are hearing, without fixing her problem, diagnosing it or getting defensive. This is hard stuff that requires practice, so don’t give up the first time you stumble. Use statements like, “You must be feeling…” or “It sounds like that really upset you when I….” You are just mirroring and stating back what you see and hear – that’s it. Maintaining that position will help. If you don’t know what to say or do, then say that. At least it’s being honest, and present, instead of trying the myriad other ways to deal with the situation.
If you disagree with her upset state, or what it is that she is upset about, that’s fine, but I would encourage you to keep those disagreements to yourself for the time being. Her upset-ness doesn’t need you to disagree with it, or else it’ll just become worse. She may be an overly emotional person in general, but when we try to figure it out, stamp out her experience or generally try to exert ourselves on it, the outcome is worse. We don’t give our women the experience that they are trying to have in the moment.
These steps will help you to become a better friend, family member, or relationship partner. These are the first few basic steps in a series of ways to engage with her in a healthy way. Most guys don’t do this. Really. You’ll be serving both of you really well if you can learn how to deal with a situation like this in the future.