Men are wired differently than women, that it can sometimes be difficult for them to see eye to eye. For women, one of the struggles they face when communicating with the opposite sex is why men don’t listen. Shedding light into this dilemma, Elizabeth Bachman interviews Kimi Avary, speaker, author, and coach, working with men and women who have challenges relating to each other personally and professionally. In this episode, Kimi provides insights surrounding the masculine and feminine and shares the tools women can use to express themselves. She also discusses why she thinks women have to do the work, where our feelings sit, and how we can use it to our advantage. Join Kimi and Elizabeth to learn more!
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Why Men Don’t Listen To Women With Kimi Avary
I’m so happy because my guest is the wonderful Kimi Avary. Kimi, welcome.
Elizabeth, it’s so great to be here with you. I always love talking with you because we share many similar values and we intend to help women thrive, speakers thrive and people just get along, men and women.
The reason I wanted to interview you and I was bugging you until I could get you online here is because I use your work, a great deal when I work with my clients. Let me tell you a little bit about the official bio for Kimi Avary. She’s a speaker, author and coach. She works with men and women who have challenges relating to each other, both personally and professionally. She has been coaching for many years and working with men and women to help them save their relationships personal and professional since 2006.
As a Certified NLP Master Practitioner, Kimi, helps her clients bridge the gap between our thoughts, language and behavior to achieve greater success. She’s got a Master’s in Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Family Studies and Human Development, which provide her with a foundation to help men and women navigate and create the harmony that they want professionally. She’s also the Creator of the Super Genius Teams Program and the Voraciously Curious Two-day Workshop.
She’s a bestselling author. She’s featured in The Grandmother Legacies book. Her upcoming book Relationship Navigation has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray of the Mars Venus book series. Kimi, the reason I wanted to ask you about this is that you were saying something important about how we can listen to each other and if we know how the other person is hardwired, let me say. Our communications are hardwired, how can we know what to ask for? How to ask in a way that the other person will hear us?
There are two pieces. Number one, I describe it as masculine, which is the provider, protector and producer of energy. That could be a man or a woman. You’ve got the feminine, the supporter, adapter, enhancer, energy man or woman. It’s either way. They are two sides of the same coin and they support each other. You can’t have a leader without supporters. There’s no successful leader who doesn’t have any supporters. Their supporters like to have leaders to follow to do their job. That’s an important distinction.
The masculine is single-focused. When they are single-focused and the feminine asks a question or makes a request or gives information sometimes, we are always interrupting that masculine energy, number one. Sometimes they don’t remember what we said and we take it personally. We as women or somebody in the masculine or a man who’s in feminine mode or this mode. It’s not about gender. It’s about styles and modes of being. This person will get their feelings hurt, think the person doesn’t care about them or respect them. If it’s a romantic relationship, love them enough to do the right thing because I talked to you about it but this person may recollect it or may not.
They may have a focus on something else at the time. While they might register, “That’s important,” but it’s not part of the plan at the moment but they don’t communicate that to the other person. This person ends up walking away. The next time this person approaches the person who’s hurt, they have no idea why that person is being nasty to them, upset and cranky. Those are all nice words to say about what people think. It’s very pleasant. They then back away so the conversation never happens. That’s the foundation of how the disaster starts.
Let’s call it masculine and feminine. I know you say the individualistic and the relational as well. Are you motivated by going in one direction and doing one thing? Are you paying attention to all the things around you if it’s majority masculine or feminine? We should probably say that to make it clear. Let me ask you then.
If you are a person who is trying to figure out how to ask, the thing that I have been using a lot to help my female clients is if they say, “Nobody ever listens to me.” It might be because of the way they are asking. Can you talk to us a little bit about the assumptions that people in feminine mode make? When they ask, they are not being heard. Talk a little bit about how that works.
The first key is what I was describing, which is the timing. If your timing is off, you are going to have trouble. I call it the Respect Factor. This is the key piece. You’ve got to notice if this person is in a single focus mode. If they are, if that masculine person, whoever’s in a single focus mode is in that mode, you’ve got to recognize that you will be interrupting them. The first thing you do is say, “I’m sorry to interrupt. I’ve got something important I need to talk to you about the plan you are working on or something important to me that will take five minutes. It will take half an hour,” or whatever that is. You’ve got to recognize that you are interrupting. That’s the key.
You then ask for that time to talk. They may not be able to talk right then. They may have to say, “I can talk to you tomorrow or my husband is working on a kitchen project. When that project is over, we can talk about a vacation. We can’t talk about it now.” It’s off the table for lots of reasons but mostly because my husband is like a Pitbull with a bone when he’s on a project.
You can’t get him to do anything else except to focus on that, which is great because he gets stuff done. On the other hand, if I’ve got something that I need, it’s hard to interrupt. It’s hard to get his attention. I have to say, “I need to talk. Don’t worry, you are not in trouble. I’m not upset. It’s important to me. When would be a good time?” We then wait until talk time comes and that’s the next critical piece.
Do you mean wait? Tell me a little bit more about it.
When women talk with each other, we talk. We go back and forth. There’s no pausing and no waiting. We might think about something fast but then we come up with an answer. It’s not that way with men if we expect them to answer right away. If we say, “There’s something I need to talk to you about. I need half an hour of your time.” He then says, “I can talk to you at 5:00 PM,” and we start the conversation right then at noon. It’s not 5:00, you are going to get a very cranky person talking to you. They are going to be irritated and frustrated. You are going to feel they don’t care so pausing and waiting until that talk time comes is critical because it feels like respect. It feels like you are honoring them.
I certainly have found myself doing that. If you are a single-focus person, a person who’s in masculine mode, how can you honor the person who’s in the supportive mode but also tell them how to approach you? I’m assuming that people who are single-focused can’t just bounce into the multi-focused mode.
It’s very difficult. In fact, the single-focused comes from the levels of testosterone in your system or from our adrenal glands, which is one reason why women get adrenal burnout. It’s a gargantuan task to get most women to be able to truly single-focus. It’s not in our hard wiring. With that said, if we want to get there if you are in masculine mode and you’ve got somebody in your team who needs your attention and you can’t talk right then or they interrupt you all the time, those are pretty big.
What you can say is, “I’m single-focused. I do care about what you have to say. It would be helpful if you could make an appointment with me. If it’s important, I can drop everything like, ‘The house is burning down. We need to do it now.’ Let me know that. No problem but when you interrupt me regularly, I don’t get what I need to get done. It doesn’t work for me. I do want to support you.”
My brother and sister-in-law worked it out where she was the person out providing for the family. She would call him and give him this honey to-do list throughout the day. Eric said, “You write me a list in the morning of everything you want to be done,” so he could do it sequentially. One result, then the next, and he was a perfectly good stay-at-home father and house maintainer. Dropping it in throughout the day did not work for them. She wrote the list in the morning and only if it was urgent, did she get to add something to that list.
Let’s talk a little bit again about the resentment and the mind-reading or expecting to mind-read because I heard you say something about that and I went, “Bingo. Yes, exactly.” I assume that since I have said it, they are going to understand then they ignore me. It means they don’t care.
The foundation of and this is the critical piece. Women look at men as hairier, misbehaving versions of themselves, who are either doing things we would never do or not doing the things we would do and we are chronically upset, which is why my work is considered the cheapest facelift in town. On the flip side, the masculine looks at the feminine as smaller, emotionally indulgent versions of themselves who can’t get to the point to save their lives because women can be verbose.
We often talk about our problems, what’s not working, what needs to be fixed but we are not offering a solution. Instead of cutting out all the junk of what’s not working and why we are upset, we can say, “I need to leave work at 5:00 PM. I have a family at home. I need to get all my assignments by 7:00 AM so I can get everything was done that needs to be done during the day.” Without, “I’m late for the babysitter and my husband is mad,” or whatever the situation is without all that garbage and it is garbage. I don’t mean to be insulting but when we are upset, it feels like it is everything to us and we make decisions based on that.
This is one reason why companies lose women. I was brought into Shell Oil because they had lost a female engineer that they had spent a fortune finding, hiring and training. After four years, she had left. She left because she couldn’t work with all the men. It wasn’t that she couldn’t work with the men. It was that she had no idea how to navigate working with men in a way that worked. They had no idea how to support her in the workplace. The boss’ name was David, she left before she said. “David, there’s something I need to talk to you about. I don’t feel respected and I need to feel respected.” They didn’t have the tools so she wasn’t able to express it except in the upset and then she left.
That’s another point that was on my list of things to ask you about. I had a conversation with a client who had things go against her in a negotiation. She didn’t get what you wanted. She loves the company. She loves her job but when she asked her what she needed, she didn’t feel heard. She was personally, emotionally upset and ready to walk away. Talk about that phenomenon where the whole bit of, “It’s not personal, it’s not business.” As Tom Hanks said in You’ve Got Mail. How we can be trapped by that and how can we try to not get caught by that trap?
It’s tricky because as the feminine, we have this special organ called our feelings. We act on our feelings. We feel something deeply and then we will act on it. Often, those feelings have compounded over a large time so much so that it’s hard not to respond to them. The masculine energy feels things deeply and thinks about the right thing to do then acts on it. That’s the two different ways of handling it.
The masculine will say, “You are being too emotional,” and we are like, “It is all-consuming.” How do you manage that? Number one, you’ve got to make sure you are doing good self-care. You’ve got to take care of yourself. Meditate in the morning or throughout the day. I have had clients set two-minute timers on the hour where they sit, breathe and take a mini-vacation. You’ve got to do self-care.
Often, for women, self-care is at the very bottom of our list. It’s got to be done daily. I wish you could fix it and it was never a problem again. That’s just not the case. You’ve got to do it daily. You have to get your sleep. You can’t be nice and what the masculine would call reasonable. If you are sleep-deprived, it sounds so simple but it makes a huge difference. Getting sleep, eating right and all of those things are the precursors that help you navigate those conversations.
When those conversations come, you can be able to talk about what is important to you. Let’s say you are upset. You want to pause and say, “I want to move back from being furious to curious. I want to know what’s inside here. What’s the need underneath there that I need to communicate?” The challenges that women are notoriously bad about knowing what we need until we are upset without it.There's no successful leader who doesn't have any supporters. Click To Tweet
That’s because is that whole noise of all the emotions on top that masks the getting down to the point, if you will, of what is it that we need. What would fix this situation?
I would say that’s a huge part of it. All the emotions, feelings and all thoughts that may be off track. If I’m assuming my boss doesn’t respect me, then I’m going down a path of having hurt feelings about something that may not even be valid. The woman who left Shell after four years, thought the company didn’t respect her. They were paying her an enormous amount of money to be there. They absolutely respected her. They wanted her to succeed. If you step back and look at the situation, they would not have hired you in the first place if they did not respect you. They are not going to do it. It’s not heard.
It was more that she didn’t feel heard and acknowledged because she was waiting for someone to acknowledge her the way someone in feminine mode would. Let me ask you then, just pursuing this. I have walked into this trap myself many times. One of the things I found is I know that I am a verbal processor. I know that I figure things out by talking about them. I know that often the solution will be the 3rd or 4th thing.
When I was running an opera company or directing operas, I used to tell my assistants, “You talk to me. Let’s talk things around. I will figure out what I need but it may be the 3rd or 4th thing.” Let’s assume that this process is there. How about recruiting your allies? For instance, the person I was speaking to was upset because the negotiation did not go the way she wanted. They were focusing on the legal aspect and not focusing on how she felt. Could she have reached out to some of her allies and talked through it before deciding to quit?
Absolutely. She can reach out to women allies. That’s pretty good because you can talk through ideas. If you are negotiating with a man, it may be helpful to reach out to a male ally. Those are all preparing for that negotiation. Depending on the relationship or the connection you have with that person you are asking for the raise from, you could even ask that person to brainstorm with you. What I would recommend is you say to the person, whoever it is, whatever ally you are working with, “I have something I need to talk over with somebody. I don’t have it sorted out in my head. I need to say everything I have tried before I have any interjections.”
What happens is if we are upset, somebody in masculine mode will try and fix it. It doesn’t feel good because we tried things and we are like, “We have tried that.” It’s irritating instead of helpful. We set our listener up to win by saying, “I’ve got to run through some ideas. This will be a quick conversation. This might take five minutes.”
Let’s say, it’s a big problem. You’ve got this whole work situation and you want to unpack all of the upsets and figure out what you need underneath it. You say, “Do you want to go out and have a cup of coffee because it’s going to take an hour or something?” This is the critical piece. “What I need from you is to hold the space and let me get it out. We will then go into problem-solving mode.” You are setting your listener up to be able to be successful with you.
They want to help. They wouldn’t give you their time if they didn’t want to help. We know time is precious. They won’t sit there for an hour if they don’t think you are valuable to listen to. Giving them the information, “I need to be able to talk about all of this,” then get your feedback and hear your thoughts. You have all the pieces on the table and you have added, “Tell me what you think would be best or what your perspective is.”
I must say that as you are saying this, there’s a part of me that says, “Why do I have to change the way I communicate in order to get what I need?”
That’s the famous question I get asked all the time. “Why do we have to do all the work?” That’s how it usually shows up. I have read every book on personal development. “Why do I have to do this?” Number one, men respond to us. They respond to us dramatically. If we are intense and upset, they go, “I don’t know if I want to talk to you.” If we are a little open and friendly, they are going to be more open to talking to us. They are very sensitive to our emotions. We can be a little scared when we are upset.
I know that. I scare people. Yes, indeed.
Thank God, I’m not the only one. Every woman I know has these moments of outbursts. It’s not like we think, “I’m going to go be angry.” Actually, I did that once but that’s a different story.
Why do we have to do all the work? Why do women have to do all the work or feminine mode? Let’s put it that way.
Where I was going was they respond to us. If we want a particular outcome and we want to spend time, not upset all the time, not cranky, feeling disrespected, unheard or unvalued and that whole litany of problems that we feel that we experienced in the workplace if we want to not experience that, it behooves us to do a different skill. This is a skillset that I didn’t know until I was in my late 30s.
It literally changed my coaching practice because all I could see were these relationship dynamics playing out personally and professionally. It was everywhere. I would see a couple of friends of mine who were getting divorced because she was upset. She had things that she needed and he didn’t know about them or her feelings have been hurt. He didn’t pick up the hints and women typically talk in hints.
Why do we have to do the work? Why do we have to learn this and get this skill? It’s because it works. I studied Nonviolent Communication. A lot of my clients have studied it but guess what? It doesn’t teach the masculine, feminine dynamic piece. Without that, you are lost. It doesn’t work because I need to express myself and my feelings. He doesn’t want to express his feelings because, “Why trust feelings? I’m going to do what I think is right.” The masculine person needs to know how important our feelings are to us to not discredit them.
That was going to be my next question. If you are someone who’s mostly in masculine mode, how can you adapt or how can you help the people in feminine mode to get what they need from you? Again, I go back to what you said. You are saying, “I can’t think about that now. Please talk to me. Could we talk at 5:00 then you will have all my attention?”
When the man you need to talk to gives you his attention, it feels like heaven. It’s like, “He’s paying attention.” Using that respect factor will give you that. If you are in masculine mode and you’ve got a feminine person upset and you want to help her get what she needs. Number one, you could say, “I do want to know what you need. It looks like you are upset and I’m guessing you are not completely clear. Can we sit down? Let’s unpack this. Let’s try and figure out what it is you need that’s underneath there because I get it you’ve got some strong emotions happening now. If you can toss in, I respect you and I want you to succeed.”
That’s going to go a long way. Offering that time will be good. Also, give her a time limit. My poor brother was in a relationship with a woman who he loved dearly and she would go on for hours about how upset she was about this and that. He dutifully listened. You shouldn’t have to do that. That’s not okay. It’s not professional. It’s not helpful. Respecting each other’s time will make it. It will make things go well.
It makes me think about one of the things that I have been noticing around written communication. Women tend to give the whole backstory and men don’t care or they won’t read through the whole backstory to get to the point. Let me end with that one. If you are sending a message, how much of the backstory, of the context should one include?
You write what you need or what’s important and then you say, “If you like context, let me know,” in a written form. If you imagine a triangle. On the top of the triangle, we tend to give all the details because as the gatherers of our species, details are life and death. We need to tell you everything. As a hunter of the species, the masculine, they don’t care if Bambi has spots. All they care about is they come home with dinner.
I like the visual of that. Here’s the feminine on the triangle. Up above, it’s all the details and you go to get to the point. If you want to communicate with a man, flip that triangle over and start with the point. Bullet points it. They call us bullet points. This is what it will provide. It’s easy. They will say, “Can you tell me a little bit more about that?”
You then tell the next layer and the next. If you start off with all the details, you will put them to sleep. My first thought, you are not going to get the promotion. You are not going to move forward in the way you want to if you feel you have to give all the details. I understand that it does feel viscerally like, “We are going to die if I don’t tell you everything,” but guess what? We are not going to die.
You sit at home, you write it all out and you save that as the second email but you don’t send it. You send the email that has the points.
Let me add something here that is important. If you’ve got three things you want to talk to that person about and you put them all in the same email with all the details, they are going to look at that email. They are going to close it and not going to read it. Why do I know this happens? I know that men do it but I do it, too. If there’s more than one point that I have to address and they go in different directions and places, it’s hard for me to find the time to sort through that email.
Send three emails if you have three points. We are painting the room. Room color, these are the choices, done. The plan for the drilling rig, done. Short, sweet and make it easy for somebody to read. You can always put the tagline and as you said, I love your idea of writing it all out and then bullet point it. If they want more details, they will ask you.
At least you’ve gotten it off your chest. Kimi Avary, I could talk to you for hours. It’s wonderful. I will point out to everybody who’s reading I have a wonderful episode with Kimi, from my show Speakers Who Get Results where she goes a lot into the theory of the relational mindset and communication style versus the individualist mindset and communication style. There’s so much more to know. Kimi, what is the best way to follow up with you?Often, for women, self-care is at the very bottom of our list when it's got to be done daily. Click To Tweet
There’s a gift and it’s called the Essence of Knowing What You Need and Asking for What You Want In a Way That Works. You go there, it will tell you what’s in it. You click through and there’s a video. It’s free. If you want to speak with me, there’s a calendar link there too that can get you on my calendar.
For those who are reading, is there a link you can tell us?
That’s for those of you who may be reading or doing something else. I want to say, Kimi, thank you so much for having been on the show.
It’s so fun talking with you. The interesting thing is that you can look at all the dynamics and you can find them everywhere. You can also find peace, which is what we all want.
I use Kimi’s work all the time in my training, my counseling and my consultancy. For those of you who are interested if you are curious about how your speaking skills are going, you can check out our four-minute quiz at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. Kimi Avary, thank you so much for joining us. I will see you all at the next one.
- Kimi Avary – LinkedIn
- Super Genius Teams Program
- The Grandmother Legacies
- Mars Venus
- Kimi Avary – Previous episode
About Kimi Avary
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