Why Conversations Feel Like Competitions

By Terry Leslie

Men tend to perceive conversation with mates as a form of competition or challenge-like playing office politics or jockeying for position in the passing lane. When we’re asked a question, we don’t just answer – we want to give the right answer (or the right excuse). If talking turns into a debate or argument, naturally we want to win it. If the conversation revolves around our partner’s problems, 9 times out of 10, we’ll move into advice-giving mode, trying to come up with solutions to the puzzle laid out before us.

Our adversarial attitude toward conversation is not just mental; it’s physical, too. Conversation can be as stressful as any physical challenge men face in life. It actually quickens our heart rates and causes our temperatures to rise. Left unchecked, our impulse to wrestle with conversation can also cause tempers to rise and very quickly lead a conversation into the not-so-gentle realm of full-blown argument. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s the basic nature of men to equate the rigors of conversation with more physical challenges. We don’t talk about stuff; we do stuff. We’re hands-on, proactive. “Men get their identities from their achievements, not their relationships. Thus, we have a hard time simply having a talk, empathizing with a partner, commiserating with her. We need to talk to have a point or a goal, or to address a concrete issue that can be solved with advice and specific actions.

This is just the opposite of what women want. Usually, all they want is to feel that you’ve heard them, regardless of whether your conversation comes to a specific resolution.

That’s not the only way we differ in conversational style. Just for your own edification, here are some other examples that reveal our competitive leanings when it comes to conversation.

–  Men issue commands; women make requests. For example, a man will say “Close the door,” while a woman will ask, “Will you please close the door?” This gives men power and makes women seem subservient.

–  While women initiate conversations, men interrupt a lot more and thus gain control of the discussion.

–  In conversation, men like to give information, not get it. This, by the way, is why we don’t like to ask for directions.

So in summary, men really do need to learn how to just listen more. This will do wonders for scoring brownie points with your woman.

Terry Leslie is a successful and world renowned authority figure on creating and maintaining successful relationships. A much sought after global speaker in the areas of intimate relationships, self-improvement and human peak potential training. 




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2 replies
  1. When-D?
    When-D? says:

    Question. What if the above scenario describes the way the woman tackles issues in the relationship. I have always been a get to the point, don't need the back story, this is what needs to be done, and soon type of person. My husband not so much. Lately our discussions, especially those that involve money, quickly spiral out of control, nothing is resolved, and the same issue will uproot itself again. Then when I take it upon myself to address and correct the issue; "You don't need me" is the immediate response. For Real! What the heck is going on?

  2. dana
    dana says:

    this explains a whole lot

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