How to Operate a Bloke – Part 27: Communication

“He’s a Terrible Communicator”

… or is he?

Over the last thirty years, I’ve heard a version of the above statement many times. Keeping in mind that more than seventy percent of my clients over the years have been women, this comes as no big surprise.

Well ladies, if you’ll allow me to, today I’d like to share another perspective.

It’s my contention (Your Honour), that in many cases, men are not actually “terrible communicators” but rather, different communicators. Different to you. That is, we’re blokes. The truth is we’re always communicating some kind of message but perhaps you’re not picking up what we’re putting down? A common issue in relationships (both personal and professional) is the assumption that lack of words equates to lack of communication. Well, more often than not, someone is listening when they should really be looking. The often-shared statistic is that communication is 93% non-verbal, so sometimes it’s prudent to look where the words aren’t. If the vast majority of communication is non-verbal, then perhaps being preoccupied with the 7% (or thereabouts) is not a great strategy.

Just a thought.

Like it or not, want it or not, a large percentage of men simply don’t communicate their thoughts and feelings the way their female counterparts do (no shit) and consequently they tend to get labelled emotionally inept. Or worse. And yes, based on the way (some) ladies think, process information, express feelings and connect, we may well be emotional imbeciles but then you’re not us and we’re not you.

In fact, most ‘normal’ blokes are communicating all the time; our actions, reactions, choices and typical behaviours are all messages. Clear messages. They are all saying something about something. Possibly, something profound. It’s all communication and while it may not necessarily be verbal, it will often tell you much more than our words ever could.

Just because your bloke is not gifted at (or excited by) the one-on-one, deep-and-meaningful verbal encounter, don’t assume that he’s not giving any insight into his thoughts or feelings. In fact, when you know what to look for and you’re prepared to pay attention, he’s often an open book; even when he doesn’t want to be. The truth is we all (men and women) communicate all the time; it’s impossible not to. The key is to understand the difference between talking and communicating. Sometimes they’re the same thing, but often not.

And by the way, I can articulate myself the way I do because I’m thirty percent female. ;)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Vin April 2, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Only 30% my arse. I am sure you have a hidden vagina somewhere.

:-)

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Craig April 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Oh Vincent, there are sooooo many witty, hilarious, yet inappropriate, responses to your comment. So sadly, they will have to wait for a real-world, three-dimensional encounter. ;)

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chebbieanne April 6, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Interesting indeed.. I have heard about protandry but I don’t think I have ever met someone thus affected. This explains so much.

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GG April 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Hey don’t forget all humans start life with XX chromosomes!
Eventually some become Y’s but maybe the XX communication facilities remain. ;)

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Cathy S April 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm

I agree Craig, not all communication need be verbal, infact the non-verbal communication can sometimes be the most effective and most pleasant kind of communication. However, sometimes it is difficult (well atleast it is for this…heh hem…lady) to have confidence in what is being read in non-verbal communication.
Great article though. Maybe you could give some of us ladies some pointers in typical male body language and it’s translation :)

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Craig April 2, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Maybe….. not. Cathy, I’ve already put my male membership in jeopardy! :)

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Cathy S April 3, 2014 at 7:04 am

Ohh…so they (the male membership) do want us (ladies) to understand their communication style and what they’re saying….or they don’t really….they’d prefer to keep it secret men’s business?? :)
The point demonstrated hehe

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Bru Mo April 2, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Craig,,,,is that communication breakdown from NLP? (neuro linguistic programming for those not familiar)…. First heard that 24 years ago at Tony Robbins Firewalk Experience weekend.

So, I attempt to refrain from TEXTING anything emotional….at times, I get lazy and it typically causes all kinds of issues. Perhaps it is why most intelligent therapists, educated “coaches” , suggest using TEXT only for short, factual , not easily MIS understood topics like, meet you at usual STARBUCKS at 5:30pm today. Or, the address is………or,, call me at ………

I remember the first time I picked up and explored one of John Gray’s books, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus……..I remember going, “YES!!! that explains it!!”…. amazing insights he has…..and it definitely HELPED the communication factor with that species from the OTHER planet!

Thanks for sharing,, and one day would like to make your OFF LINE social gathering….down under~

Your cyber friend from the heartland of USA,
Bru(ce) Mo(rton)

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 8:33 am

Hey Bruce. Reading and interpreting the non-verbal communication is a science on its own but there certainly is an overlap and some common ground with NLP. Cheers Mate.

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Kathy S April 3, 2014 at 1:27 am

Craig,
You are spot on. People, including women, say more with their body language than with their tongue. And, body language doesn’t lie or manipulate like the tongue. Learn how to read body language!

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

Hi Kathy. Paul Ekman was (among others) one of the first to turn the art of reading people into a science. Genius. :)

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amber April 3, 2014 at 2:40 am

I thought this was a great article! My husband is “terrible” at communicating verbally but we can have a whole conversation jsut looking at each other when others are around. He looks at me and I know what he wants to say and what he’s thinking. When he’s angry he doesn’t say a word either…but he can make more noise without saying a word than any female chatter I know! LOL

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 8:37 am

It’s a good thing you know how to listen when he’s saying nothing Amber. :)

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Evan April 3, 2014 at 6:41 am

I think it was Richard Glover, a newspaper columnist, writing on this subject who said something to the effect, “So much can be communicated by how close you sit to someone on the couch while watching the footy”.

Undoubtedly true.

It is also true that men find it personally liberating and enriching to be able to articulate their feelings.

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Evan April 3, 2014 at 6:42 am

P.S. In a church youth group I was part of many years ago the other males appointed me honorary female.

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

You and me both Evan.

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Priscilla April 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

which 30%, Craig? hahahahaha!
–Priscilla

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 8:53 am

My mind Priscilla.

Of course. :)

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Shirley April 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

Hi Craig yes, as usual you are spot on. I too am married to a non verbal man and have become vert adept at determining nuances in his grunts. But just occasionally it would be good to have a VERBAL communication on my level. You have given us a taste Craig of what could be and I want more!!

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Craig April 3, 2014 at 9:08 am

Shirley, maybe I can run workshops for grunting blokes!

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Mick April 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hi Craig,
I love your site, but sorry i have to disagree with this, respectfully of course ;) most women will know this is true!

In my opinion, ‘normal’ blokes think about four things. The user manual is a four part book that reads like this: providing (that includes how we pay for our shelter i.e work and providing for our kids, wife etc.), entertainment (usually some kind of sport or interest e.g motorbikes, footy, computers), food and women (i think you generally know what I mean ;) Different ages have different orders of these four opeation modes. Although we try to dabble in things like emotion, it doesn’t really fit into one of the four categories, so we (I) struggle – it does not compute!

The key for any woman out there is to frame communication into one of these categories, not in an abstract category (i.e if you want me to do the dishes, say something like i need you to provide for me by doing the dishes. Not, nag nag, what would mr and mrs jones think blah, blah, nag, nag – that does not compute! Guys are so simple they won’t even ask why you need dishes to provide for you – it will just push the operate button for provide. So there you go, communication with guys sorted, i accept any royalties!

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Kim April 4, 2014 at 10:33 am

Hey Mick, I love your perspective, that rings true to me. What should I say to my husband if I think he’s lazy and I want him to work harder to provide for us. I have a lot of resentment because I am the main bread winner out of necessity not choice. He is self employed and talks the talk but won’t walk the walk.

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Rissi April 4, 2014 at 10:32 am

I love this Craig – my partner has taught me SO much about male communication and really changed my thoughts on ye ol’ “guys never talk!”.

We have been living together for about a year now and only by keeping an open mind to differences between males and females are we at a point now where we very rarely argue because we are always listening to each other: either my words or his actions.

You’re so very, very right here. And for the women: I find that if you allow him to educate you on his methods of communication the amount of things he wants to share with you will flourish.

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Anonymous April 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

Could this possibly be an idea for your next book Craig ?!!! How to Operate a Bloke ?
Think it would be a VERY interesting read & VERY helpful to a lot of women. – Not to mention hilarious & educational.
ETA on publication ?

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Gayle April 22, 2014 at 11:47 am

Hi Craig,

I know you are focusing on your ‘short and sweets’ on Facebook at the moment, but I miss your regular blogs on here. Could it be time for one of your challenges perhaps?

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Kerrie Peacock April 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Great post, I definitely agree. After 8 years with my husband I’ve learned how to understand him when he is saying nothing at all.

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Gullu May 16, 2014 at 9:09 am

Hi Craig,

Not sure what’s goin’ on with you….it’s been over a month since your last blog – I’m getting withdrawals and will hold you accountable for my admission into therapy!

All jokes aside, you have become such an integral part of my day that I am now having to go an read some of your older stuff. BTW – I recently purchasing the Angry Ant for my husband: Feedback from the family, the font in the book was difficult to read and stay focused. Also the book started to come apart from the centre – I’m just sayin!

Thanks for all your unconditional efforts, I love ya.

G

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