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How to Really Listen to a Woman

  • Dr. David B. Hawkins The Relationship Doctor
  • Published Jun 21, 2006
How to <i>Really</i> Listen to a Woman

Lisa sat pensively by the phone, hoping it might be Jack. While they had not made any kind of exclusive arrangement in their dating, Lisa knew Jack was the kind of man she’d like to continue seeing.

“Hi, it’s Jack. What’s happening?” Jack asked.

“Not much,” Lisa answered, pleased that he had called. “What are you up to?” she asked, stopping herself from adding, “Any plans for tonight?”

“Well, I was wondering if you might want to take in a movie or something?” 

“I’d like that. I didn’t have any plans,” she said.

Jack and Lisa began seeing one another on a more regular basis, obviously enjoying one another’s company. However, as the weeks passed, they never discussed the direction of their emerging relationship.

Lisa and Jack started developing a pattern which was not satisfying to either of them. Lisa enjoyed being with Jack, but had been counseled by friends not to make her feelings or intentions too obvious. Jack, likewise, had been told by his friends to be “cool,” letting her lead the way.

This awkward dance, between a man and woman, happens over and over, with each wondering what the other is thinking, but afraid to ask. Each hopes the other will be more open with his or her feelings so the other won’t have to guess. Men, especially, need to learn the fine art of listening to a woman.

Listening is much more than simply hearing what is said. It is listening for what is not said. It is listening for pauses in the conversation, as much as to the words. It is, as I’ve said in my book, Saying It So He’ll Listen, listening with your soul. It means communicating with a clear purpose and intention.

Today, with more and more people single or single again, it is more important than ever to refine the art of listening. It has been said that there is no truer way to express love than to listen to the deepest part of another.

Men take little time for this aspect of relating. Prone to want quick fixes, quick dinners and quick-and-easy romance, it is challenging for them to take time to truly listen to a woman. But, it is a challenge that will pay great rewards. Here are a few tips for men, but equally helpful to women.

First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the topic is something you’re wondering about, chances are it is time to have a conversation about it. Might you be jumping the gun on an issue? Possibly, but a good question, asked tactfully, is rarely out of bounds.

Second, if you’re dying to ask a question, consider making a statement instead. If you want to ask if this other person, a certain woman in question, cares about you, why not make a statement instead, revealing your feelings. Yes, it is riskier. It’s always easier to ask a question rather than express your feelings – but, be brave. Put your feelings and desires on the line. What’s the worst that can happen? 

Third, open up the issue to conversation. Let her know that you want to talk about some things. Tell her you want to talk about your relationship. Better yet, tell her you want to have a DTR – determine the relationship – talk. She’ll flip with excitement. Even if you’re just talking about what you want to do this weekend, she’ll appreciate you leaning into the conversational aspect of your relationship.

Fourth, stay curious. Whether you are on the first date, or the fourteenth. There’s always more to learn about her. Is that ever the truth? So, don’t stop being curious about why she thinks the way she does and believes what she believes. Tell her, “I’m curious. How come. …” Said with sincere curiosity, and not criticism, she’ll love the fact that you want to be a student of her interests. 

Finally, be honest. Yes, you heard me right. Oh, I know there are armchair counselors out there telling you to keep your cards close to your chest. “Don’t appear needy,” they’ll say. “Make it sound like you’re only mildly interested.” Hogwash. Take a chance. If you care for her, tell her. If she’s not your type, get that out on the table, too, so you can decide together if a friendship of any kind is in your future.

It is time to quit playing games; learn how to communicate and listen. Tell her you understand, or at least are trying to understand, even if you haven’t got a clue. Show her she has your attention and for this moment in time, she has your complete interest. You’ll be glad you did – and so will she.

David Hawkins, PhD., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. 

He is the author of over 18 books, including
  "Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage," "Saying It So He'll Listen," and  "When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You." His newest book is titled "When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit."  Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on Puget Sound, where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.