As a mummy to boys for nearly seven years and a wife for nearly 10 years you’d think I might have some clue about communicating with boys. Yet I struggle every day. I am entirely convinced that boys and girls communicate differently. Before anyone gets all cross about this it doesn’t mean that I only talk to my girls about flowers, sparkles and pink stuff or that I think you need to be all tough and manly with boys. In fact I think it is vitally important to get boys to communicate about feelings and develop their emotional intelligence. I firmly believe that this is more necessary with boys than girls as we need to overcome the social condition of only girls cry!
As much as I try to effectively communicate with my boys I have found myself talking to them and wondering if I am simply speaking another language. They just don’t seem to get what I am saying and look at me as if I just landed from outer space. I include the husband in this ‘boys’ as he does often look very confused when I ask him to do something and for the life of me I can’t work out why. Sometimes I just don’t know how else to say it… In fact I often just say it in German as if they feel like I am speaking a different language I might as well. I hasten to add this does not work – they don’t speak German!
For this reason and to save myself from getting a little bit shouty I have been looking into communication theory and specifically how men and women differ. It seems I am not mad we do communicate differently. So despite being no expert and the fact that I constantly have communication fails both with the boys and the husband here are a few things I have learnt along the way and seem to work for me when communicating with boys.
Check out the list below to see my top tips:
Low and slow
- My boys take their instruction better from my husband and after research I found out that men genuinely can’t process higher pitches and fast speech as well as if you speak low and slow. I know I get high pitched if I am irritated so I try to slow it down
Be specific and direct
- Passive aggressive does not work. If I hint about wanting something done and don’t issue a specific, time bound and direct request forget it – it won’t be happening
Ask for solutions not support
- Sometimes I just want empathy and a listener. My husband frequently reminds me that this is not his department. For this he tells me to call my mother or sister and see him about problem solutions. I have been reading that the male gender are predisposed to create solutions and see this as a main purpose for communication. There was me just thinking he was being an arse…
Talk on the move
- There is a theory that boys are generally more physical and kinetic in their thinking styles and so often process information better when on the move so if they are in trouble or its an important message and I need them to understand we walk and talk
The fewer words the better
- I totally lose the boys and my husband when I include too much detail. I think they just get bored (sometimes I bore myself so I do get it!). So short, sharp and direct seems to be the key
Use their names
- This sounds daft, but I often find myself going for the collective ‘boys’ and then no one does what I ask. They each assume I am addressing the other so no one moves. So even if I need both to do something I say each of their names and then sometimes just sometimes they do what I ask. I think this applies to my girls too.
This is probably not a uniquely boy thing either! I have noticed that if I say ‘coats on everyone we are leaving now’ and I don’t have my coat on or am quickly doing something no one moves. To me it is logical to do something whilst they put their coats on as I am quicker, but no this does not compute. However, if I stand at the front door with my coat on and say exactly the same words then voila movement commences. It is like they need to see it to believe it. I wonder do they think I am joking or just uncommitted if I am not doing what I am saying?
I am so aware that it really won’t be too long before these boys will be taller and stronger than me. Then being able to effectively communicate will become even more vital in my opinion. I get concerned that once this happens I just won’t be able to connect with them or ever get them to do the things I need. It is so important to build that connection and respect level now so that in the future it is innate. I also want them to know that they can talk to me and that it is OK to be sad or emotional. Conversation is key to the expression of feelings and so I want to be able to communicate effectively around the small things in order to build trust for when bigger things come along. I am continuing to work on my skills around communicating with boys and would love to hear if you have any gems that you use to help get your little or big boys to listen to you or just enhance your communication with them.
Boys feel free to comment too… Is there anything that we girls do when communicating that really doesn’t work for you?