One of the things that never ceases to amaze me in the job we do, is that given the right circumstances (a safe place) blokes will disclose their issues and tell their story. Every bloke that I have met has a story and/or issues and is willing to talk.
Blokes do talk but we need to acknowledge the differences between how the genders go about this. There are also some other factors that need to be considered in how we go about talking with blokes. The differences are real and we need to recognise some of the communication disparities between blokes and ladies:
- Blokes only talk one third as much as ladies in a day (approx. 7,000 to 21,000 words). The majority of females think and speak in a narrative way whereas blokes prefer dot points.
- Single word responses to questions like – yes, no, good, bad and grunting are considered responses by blokes.
- Much of the additional talk that ladies do is around describing emotions and feelings. Therefore, in comparison to blokes, they have a sort of ‘match fitness’ around the ability to discuss emotion that we as blokes lack.
- In much the same way that the Inuit people have around 180 words to describe snow (because of its cultural and safety implications), the ladies in our life tend to operate with a larger word bank to deal with discussions around emotion and feelings.
- Blokes find it uncomfortable to talk about their emotions. We have been conditioned not to and are hard wired differently, often focusing on problem solving, providing and protecting, rather than how we feel, let alone talking about it.
To have a more productive outcome when having ‘that talk’, some other factors to consider include:
- Choosing the right environment to communicate is essential. This is not when we are distressed and out of control, but when we have calmed down. Also, avoid being under the influence of alcohol (this can act as a ‘mood enhancer’ and alter our state of mind).
- Timing is an important factor to consider. Agree on a designated time to talk, avoid times when you are preoccupied with other tasks, when there is a chance of being interrupted or when there are a lot of things happening.
- Be prepared to listen. The most important part of talking is listening (I think this is an oxymoron!) Having respect, connection and empathy with whom we are talking to will give us more of an opportunity to become an active listener.
- Getting help with having ‘that talk’ with your bloke. Don’t be afraid to seek help in having a talk with your dad, husband, son or mate i.e., use an independent person, your GP or a counsellor.
Considering the above factors and ‘giving permission’ to blokes that it’s okay to talk about things that cause us discomfort or pain may assist with blokes opening up more. Sometimes this does take time.
From little things big things grow (just like this year’s crop), blokes do talk, so sow the seed towards a meaningful conversation. It is a myth ‘that men don’t talk’ they will, just not always in the way we expect.
Owen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277