LIVING WITH WOMEN
 

TALKING WITH FEMALES


SECRETS


The secret, if there is one,

to living well with woman

is to pay more attention

to what she does

that to what she says,

to go more by your eyes

than your ears

in choosing what to do

especially when pleasure

is the goal


Hear her words

listening through them

for earthy wisdom

but never try to force a female

through the narrow sieve of sense

especially of the male variety


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WHEN CONFLICTS ARISE


Think in circles, not straight lines, and forget about "your word."


In Lerner and Lowe's version of Camelot, when young King Arthur is confounded trying to understand Princess Guinevere's thinking, he goes to Merlin the Magician asking for answers. Merlin advises him, in effect, not to worry about how women think, because "they don't do it often."

Merlin may have been wise in many regards, but I think he was wrong if Arthur heard him literally and concluded that "women don't think much." More clearly Merlin might have added: "as we do," that is, metaphorically speaking, as on a railroad track rather than a Merry-go-round or a Farris wheel.

He might have said–at least I do: "Indeed females don't often think as we do." But for clarity he might have added, "Rather they think wholistically, in circles which encompass all, rather than in lines which exclude seemingly irrelevant data while moving toward a logical conclusion." Or so I observe and hence imagine wise Merlin would also have seen.


My summary point is: Typically, women think in circles, while men think in straight lines (like riding on a Merry-go-round rather moving down a train track). Correctly women may see men as "having one track minds" because we do tend to think of one thing at the time, and to follow a line of thought toward some logical end. Also, we may be easily distracted when a woman tries to change the subject before we reach one shared conclusion.

Small wonder that young Arthur, nicknamed Wart, was having a hard time understanding beautiful Guinevere. If a woman had written the tale, she might have noted Guinevere's difficulty in "sticking to a point" devoid of emotions.


But Camelot speculations aside, back to my point (small pun intended).


This suggestion is not that we men give up what seems to be our more natural mode of thinking, but rather that we add another mental capacity, namely, to also "think like a woman" in times of relationship conflicts. We need not negate our "one track," logic based mode, but if we are to converse productively with females we do well to learn their "language (to mix my metaphors)" also–that is, to think in circles as well as we already do in lines.

In fact, for success in talking with a woman we will be wiser if we use our left brain capacities to think in larger circles rather than straighter lines, that is, to, in effect, encircle their circles instead of trying to force them to "be reasonable" or "think like we do."

We can seldom, if ever, succeed with our lines when confronted with circular thinking which always and easily outwits linear logic. Better, if we can, to out circle her often limited circles with even larger circles, than waste energy trying to win a disagreement with our fragile (though reasonable) lines.


PRINCIPLE IN PRACTICE


Don't try to use reason to resolve a conflict. Logical thinking, in which one makes points with discrete bits of provable data, may work well with other males who also think logically; but this mode of conflict resolution is predictably unsuccessful with females who think wholistically and value feelings more than reasons.

Instead, for example, of presenting facts aimed at proving your case (as a lawyer might do in court), abandon this adversarial mode in favor of encircling a woman's revealed feelings. Encompass her emotions rather than trying to prove your point.

Instead of "trying to be right" yourself, or to "prove her wrong," or even to defend yourself with logical explanations, try to embrace (encircle) her feelings, both verbally and/or non-verbally. If her emotions are not clearly stated, as in, "You don't do anything to help around the house," try to read between the lines looking for a cloaked emotion. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed by housework, or angry at you for watching TV while she cooks.

You might, in typical male fashion, counter with a fact, such as, "You don't ever mow the yard either," or defend yourself in some way (assuming, blindly, that she is attacking you), as in, "Well, I've had a hard day at work."

But if so, predictably the occasion will only deteriorate because, either way, you will have missed her emotional expression ("how she feels") slightly concealed in words about you.


I pause here to amplify a gender difference commonly operative in such conflicts, namely, left brain "thinking" males and right brain "feeling" females. While we males commonly identify ourselves with "what we think," females rarely do; instead they more often identify with "how they feel."

To us males, things are mostly okay when we can "make sense" of what we perceive; but for females, "feeling comfortable" is more often the primary goal in whatever is happening. From these different perspectives, emotions are as irrelevant to point-making males, as are facts to feeling-oriented females.

These significant differences may be ignored or avoided when things are going well in a relationship; but at points of conflict they typically become problematic, even divisive. When disagreements arise, we males tend to resurrect, or escape into, our sense-making mode, while females do the same with their self-identified feelings. Men get more reasonable while women get more emotional, and, barring a minor miracle, disruption is predictable.


UNFAIR ADVANTAGE


Conflicts, often long-standing, are typically brought into the open, if at all, in the verbal arena where males have an unfair advantage. Whereas reasons and facts are easily expressed in words, emotions are notably hard to translate into verbal language. We may "know how we feel," but putting an emotion into words can be difficult, if not impossible to do.

The relevant problem here is that what "comes naturally" for men, namely, expressing reasons in words, is often very difficult for women who are much better at non-verbal emotional expression, but must in this arena of conflict, translate their feelings into words.

Their difficulty is compounded by the fact that sense-oriented men are typically focusing on facts ("what is said") rather than feelings ("what she means"). What women are most wanting to communicate is what we men are often trying to ignore.


ENCIRCLING CIRCLES


How is this principle and metaphor of encircling circles, that is, embracing woman's circular mode of thinking with even larger circles, exercised in practice? How can a man possibly "out think" a female in times of conflict?

The first step is temporarily abandoning our familiar mode of thinking in straight lines (as on a train track), that is, presenting points aimed at "making sense" and reaching a reasonable verbal conclusion. In order to move into woman's mode (circular thinking) a man must first let go of his own way and begin to engage in wholistic thinking in which all data is included, whether it seems relevant or not.

For instance, in the female mode of circular or wholistic thinking, as contrasted with the male mode of "sticking to the point," any perception is acceptable at any time. Any observation, idea, recollection, feeling, or sense experience (a sight, sound, smell, etc.) is in order at any point in circular thinking. There is no such thing as "changing the subject," since there is no single subject in woman's way of thinking (regardless of what a man may think). "Anything goes," insofar as current conversation is concerned, when the mode is circular rather than linear.

Even though there is a real point of difference in any relational conflict, a subject, a man might think, in circular thinking this is but one of a multitude of possible bits of data acceptable in a current conversation. What a man may take as "trying to change the subject," may be, in woman's mode, simply including one more piece of information.

For example, in the middle a typical male attempt "prove his point," a circular-thinking woman may observe and state, "It looks like rain today." Geared to exclude data not deemed relevant, a man is likely to be "de-railed" in his train-track mode, thinking that "she is trying to change the subject," or, "she is not listening to me." Both may be wrong since in woman's way of wholistic thinking most all perceptions are acceptable in any conversation.

If a man is to "out think" a woman in such an encounter, he must first be willing to abandon his linear mode, to move into circular thinking, and then to, in effect, draw an even larger circle. To, for example, her seemingly irrelevant observation about rain, he might switch quickly himself and add, "It does at that; I must remember to take my umbrella to work today."

In so doing, he evidences acceptance of her way of thinking, and openly joins in, as though his "train of thought" has been completely abandoned. In reality, however, he is temporarily shifting to circular thinking while remaining open to either pursuing his point later, or perhaps, waiting for her to return on her own. In either case, he has preserved a comfortable setting rather than escalating the conflict by pressuring her to see things his way.

Often, when a man succeeds in such "encircling the circle," switching from linear to a circular mode, he may discover that a female was not, as he may have concluded, "trying to change the subject." Instead she may simply have been taking her time in hearing him, while her own feelings became clearer in her conscious thinking.


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