What most men don’t understand is that there’s more to listening than just hearing her. Even if you let her talk for 45 minutes about what her coworker said this morning, it’s not going to get you any points if you weren’t actively listening. You need to give a woman the right cues that tell her that you’re interested and engaged with her story. The good thing is that these cues are easy to manage even when your eyes are glazing over with boredom.
Let Her Complain
It seems like there’s an obvious solution to her problem. She could ask her coworker what she meant, or just forget the entire incident. You want to help, so you try to tell her what she’s missing and she gets upset. What have you done wrong? Women don’t always want a solution to their problems. They’re not asking you to fix it. They want someone to feel bad for them or acknowledge that their feelings were hurt, that’s all. When you step in and try to help, you’re a hero in your own mind. In hers, you’re a guy who won’t listen to what she’s really saying. It’s not about the problem. It’s about how she feels about the problem.
Rephrase and Repeat
You’ve restrained your urge to fix her problem, but you’re not out of the woods yet. You’re going to have to give her some feedback to prove that you’ve been listening. When it’s time for you to chime in, keep away from the value judgments, advice, and name calling the other people in her story. What she really wants from you is proof that you understand the situation. To give this, all you have to do is rephrase her problem in your own words. When she spends forty minutes complaining that her boss doesn’t appreciate her, all you have to say is “you put in so much effort and no one in the office even notices.” You’ll get points for empathy. She’ll feel like someone in the world understands her pain. It’s a win-win situation.
Check in Later
If you’re going for the triple slam dunk of male-female communication, you have to wait for as long as a week. You need to wait in order to give the situation time to develop and change, then ask her if her boss has ever started seeing the effort that she puts in. She’ll be surprised and flattered that you even remembered. You may have to sit through a recap of the events she already spent a long time telling you about since you wanted to hear an update on the situation, even if nothing has changed. Being bored is a small price to pay for all the brownie points you just earned.
Most men make the mistake of just sitting like a lump while a woman talks to them. By applying yourself just enough to parrot her problem back to her and then remember it a few days later, you’re putting yourself far above most men that she’s dated.