Honey, Sometimes I Just Need You to Listen

There is a fundamental difference between men and women. Well, in reality there are many, but I’m thinking of one in particular.

I’m speaking in generalizations here, but sometimes this difference can lead to some big misunderstandings. Men and women end up arguing with each other and not quite understanding how they got there.

The difference is that when women are looking for listening and understanding, men will give solutions.

Allow me to illustrate.

Does any couple ever look this attractive when arguing? I call fake.

Me: I don’t like LinkedIn as a social media platform. I think it’s poorly designed and not user-friendly.

Chico: Really? What’s wrong with the design?

Me: (Please note that this conversation took place a while ago and LinkedIn has since improved its layout) The “timeline” feature isn’t visually pleasing, and it’s hard to read. I find there’s no visual flow; my eye wants to go everywhere.

Chico: Well maybe they designed it that way to show as much information as possible on the homepage.

Me (getting a little annoyed): Well it’s stupid! And it’s not at all user-friendly.

Chico: How so?

Me (slightly exasperated): The group settings are a pain in the butt to manage, and managing a company page is complicated. It’s not obvious where you have to click to do the basic things you want to do.

Chico: I’m sure they did testing with their design to make sure it was as easy to use as possible.

Me (frankly miffed): Well they failed! Every company update you add shows above the company information on the company page. As you post updates once or twice a week, that pushes your company information down to the bottom of your page. In order to read that information, viewers have to keep scrolling down until they get to your first update, then the company information freezes in place and can be read.

Chico: Are you sure you’ve got the company page settings correct? Maybe you’ve selected that setup and it’s something you can change.

Me (really ticked off now): No it’s not! It’s just that way! And it’s dumb!

Chico: I’m sure there’s a solution, you just need to dig around for it. Go into your company page settings and see if you can fix it.

Me (voice slightly raised in annoyance): I have! You can’t change it! It’s annoying!

Chico: But, if you just…


Chico: …

This is not what I need!

The conversation we had was far longer than represented above. We somehow ended up pitted against each other, me as the Anti-LinkedIn Avenger and Chico as the Pro-LinkedIn Protector. Before I finally clued in to what was happening, we were in a full-blown argument.

Really, all I needed after that long, stressful and frustrating day at work was a sympathetic ear. I wanted my Chico to listen, agree, commiserate, nod his head and say, “I understand.”

But what he tried to give me were solutions: how to fix the problem I was having with LinkedIn.

Let’s be clear: I did not need solutions. Solutions were annoying.

Sometimes a girl’s just gotta bitch.

One way we ladies communicate is by “bitching.” You can refer to this as “gossiping” or “chit chatting” or “complaining,” but really what we’re doing is discussing.

We’re discussing all kinds of things: looking at them from different angles, analyzing and evaluating them. Mainly, though we’re observing. We’re not looking to fix something we think is broken, usually. We’re just talking about it.

Enter Mr. Fix It.

Now this could perhaps just be the men in my family, but I’ve noticed that a guy’s approach to dealing with this kind of “discussing” is to look for solutions.

He’ll think, “How can I help Jane fix this problem with LinkedIn?” or, “What solution can I find to help Jane feel better about her work today?”

Honestly, it’s sweet. It’s thoughtful, kind, and often when I am indeed looking for an answer, it’s extremely helpful. But there is a time for answers and there is a time for kvetching.

How to know when which is needed?

Ah, knowing when a lady needs what is a fine art that must be slowly perfected over many, many years of study and practice. But something that can help a lot in these situations is good communication.

I happen to work in communications and to be quite in tune with my communication (and listening) needs. Many people are not.

Gentlemen, if your lady friend is irritated, tired and complaining, that’s usually a good time to open your ears and shut the hell up. Don’t try to solve a problem unless she directly asks for you to do so.

Go forth and communicate.

I hope this proves helpful to any gentlemen readers out there who are baffled by their ladies’ behavior.

And ladies, it helps to be able to tell your guy what it is you need from him at a certain point in time. And, of course, to do the same for him when he needs a listening ear.



The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

One thought to “Honey, Sometimes I Just Need You to Listen”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.