When it comes to communication between men and women there’s a lot of misunderstandings. Even if the right words are being used, the vocal cues aren’t. For example, forcing your child to apologize. Sure. They’ll angrily exclaim “I’m sorry,” but it’s definitely not sincere.
Guys, even if you’re not trying to make women angry, embarrassed or uncomfortable, there’s a very good possibility that you will because men communicate differently than women. In most cases, I find that no matter the woman (my wife or women that I know) I’m making them uncomfortable without realizing it.
However, if you’re aware of this fact, you can start correcting the problem so that there aren’t any misunderstandings. And, you can start by avoiding these words or phrases.
As most women will inform you, these are probably the most condescending and anger-producing words in the English language. Truly, the worst that you can ever say.
When a man says these words to a woman, it’s pretty much like adding fuel to the fire. You’re implying she’s not in control of her emotions, which in turn makes her feel self-conscious and even more-enraged. Meanwhile, it shows that you are saying that you, the man, are the wise and rational one.
Instead of telling a woman to “calm down,” ask her sincerely what’s going on.
2. “You look really tired today.”
I don’t care who you are, nobody looks their best when they’re tired, and they probably have the grouchy mood to go with their unkempt physical appearance. Pointing out that someone is tired is implying that they look awful.
If you don’t know everything that’s going on in her life, ask her. It’s a better approach than making her feel uncomfortable about her physical appearance, and it demonstrates that you’re concerned.
3. “What is it now?”
“This conveys impatience and anger about what is probably her bid for connecting with you,” says John Gottman, Ph.D. “Every attempt she makes to connect with you is an opportunity to turn toward her need and connect emotionally.”
Instead of being impatient or angry over her concerns or questions, ask her what’s on her mind.
4. “Wow! You look great. How much weight have you lost?
This is a well-meaning comment which you probably meant as a compliment. However, it suggests that the woman was either unattractive or overweight in the past. Never make those implications by comparing a woman to how she looked in the past. Just simply tells her that it’s nice to see her.
5. “You ate that whole thing?”
This is a contender for most embarrassing statements that you can make to a woman, even if you’re just in awe because she weighs 110 pounds and ate more wings than you did. To her, she hears that you think she has a eating problem or should be ashamed in some way because she was hungry.
On the flip side, also avoid, “Is that all you’re going to eat?”. You don’t control what and how much a woman should eat. (Or the amount or content of what anyone “should” eat.)
According to a study conducted by an underwear company Knix Wear, “moist” is the most cringeworthy and disliked word to women.
“People have a really visceral reaction” to the word, says Paul Thibodeau, PhD, a language psychologist at Oberlin College. “They cringe immediately, so they think it’s the sound of the word that’s triggering it.”
However, the real source of people’s discomfort with this word may be because of the associations it has with sex and bodily functions. While women aren’t as grossed out when followed after food-related words, such as cake, people also dislike synonyms like “damp,” “wet,” and “sticky.”
In short, avoid using this word as much as possible and use alternatives like “humid” or “watery.”
7. “You should smile more often.”
I’m sure that you’ve witnessed men say this to women, even if they’re total strangers. Let’s be honest here, a woman doesn’t owe you a smile whenever she’s in your presence. As Erika Henderson states perfectly, “The sexualization behind telling women to smile is alarming. It makes women feel that we are only meant to be happy and pretty and it’s a passive way to engage into an unwanted conversation.”
8. “That’s not very ladylike.”
Here’s the definition of “ladylike;” “appropriate for or typical of a well-bred, decorous woman or girl.” Do we apply Victorian standards to women these days? I don’t think so. Women don’t have to wear a dress to an interview or when in the workplace. Pantsuits are completely acceptable and professional. So are jeans and sneakers.
Telling a woman that she’s not “ladylike” perpetuates sexist notions by playing into certain social rules and can lower their self-esteem. Don’t make anyone feel ashamed for who they are.
9. “You look great for your age.”
This is another statement that may have good intentions, but it comes across (and is) as condescending and rude. Just simply say that they “Look great.” Easy peasy. Remember, if you’re compliments are genuine, they won’t require a “for you” qualifier.
10. “Actually, that’s not a word” or “Actually, that’s now how that’s done.”
Saying this a public setting is patronizing and embarrassing. That’s not to say that we can never joke around with a girlfriend or correct a colleague. There’s just a time and place for that and it’s not when you’re out to dinner with friends or during a meeting.
Starting your remarks off with “Listen” implies that she wasn’t listening and you’re now ordering her to pay attention to what you have to say, and her only role is to play the listener.
12. “That’s a man’s job, let me do that.”
First off, what exactly is a “man’s job?” Sure, there are jobs that have more men employees, like manual labor or entrepreneurship. But, if it’s acceptable for men to have jobs that were previously considered a “woman’s job,” like teaching or nursing, then the same can be true for women. It should be about talent, passion and experience, not gender.
Outside of the workplace, does this mean moving furniture or fixing the toilet? I know lots of men who can’t do either job and plenty of women who can. Don’t assume that a woman is incapable of doing something because it’s perceived as a “man’s job.” Whoever can do the job, it’s their job to do.
13. “At least I never ____ .”
This is a phrase that we use to deflect attention from ourselves whenever we made a mistake. Instead of admitting and owning the mistake, we bring up the past — which is completely irrelevant at this moment.
We all make mistakes in our lives that we’re embarrassed about. But holding that over someone else’s head to make you feel less guilty is immature and just plain dirty.
14. “Why do you always do that?”
No one “always” does anything. Suggesting they do puts them on the defensive because you’re defining them based on one instance. For example, “you always leave dirty dishes in the sink,” is defining her as messy or lazy. Even if that’s happened several times, or all the time, there’s no need to let that frustration build-up. Discuss these issues as they happen instead of making this habit a characterization of her.
According to 38 percent of Americans, “whatever” is the most annoying word or phrase used in conversations. Nothing gets me fired-up more than when someone tells me “whatever.”
Even if you’re indifferent to a question, it’s important to the other party. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have been asked in the first place. Offer your opinion instead of completely dismissing the question.