We all have ego…men just have more of it!
Studio 5 Relationship Matt Townsend shares some advice for dealing with the male ego.
What is the Male Ego?
· All data channels through the amygdala, the fight, flight or mate part of the brain.
· Your comment has to make it through that part of the brain without sending a message of a threat or hierarchy.
· Ego was built for protection and preservation, not long-term relationships.
· Men’s ego is hit any time you seem to take a position above them.
· It picks up subtle hints of hierarchy, domination or positioning that could be threatening long term.
5 Keys to Handling the Male Ego
See the Male Ego as Your Friend Not Your Foe
The male ego is a part of the male life that can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, the male ego enables men to do things that most men would not normally do. You can choose to combat it, run into it and battle it every day, or you can learn how to read it, and work together to get the results you need to get. The best example I’ve found to describe the male ego came to me while writing this article. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who used to have a goat that he needed to milk twice a day. When he went out of town, he needed someone to milk it and for some odd reason, I was that guy! Now if you’ve ever tried to milk a goat you know that it isn’t an easy task, especially if the goat doesn’t want to be milked. This goat did not want to be milked, so twice a day the two of us went head to head to see who was in charge. He quickly became my arch enemy. I would chase it, corner it, pull on it, push it and scream at it and everything else I could think of to get it to cooperate. For a half hour we would battle just to get the milk. I so badly wanted to give up but I knew I couldn’t or the goat would end up not giving milk for my friend. Eventually I learned that I needed to see the goat as a partner in the venture and not my enemy. As I saw the goat differently I began to understand its needs more clearly, I learned its triggers and habits. I learned what it was afraid of and how I could work more effectively in getting the shared results we both needed to get. The ego, just like the goat, can be stubborn and impossible to work with. If it is mistreated it will react, if it feels threatened it will attack. It needs to be seen as our friend not our foe. It needs to be understood not just overcome! The male ego is your friend not your foe.
· It needs to be respected, or you’ll pay for it.
· The male doesn’t usually understand it, or like it, any more than you do.
· It can be your greatest advantage or your worst enemy; it is completely up to you.
Talk Like a Peer Not a Parent
The male ego tends to make men very sensitive to hearing negative comments from their wives and other important people in their lives. They don’t want to hurt or let others down, especially those people they love the most. And women don’t want to hurt the men in their lives with negativity either but they do want to see some positive change. So some wives give the feedback and some men take offense, neither really understanding why the other is put out. Some signs that a man’s ego is being threatened by what you’re saying might be when he uses phrases like; “Stop nagging me, “You sound just like my mother!” or “I can’t do anything right for you!” Notice that each of these comments come from verbal feedback that your partner is hearing. They are also all signs that that you are taking a position of authority or hierarchy over your partner. One of the biggest threats to the male ego is when you take a position of hierarchy over the man. When he is being told what to do, what is acceptable and what isn’t or when you are telling him where he has to be and at what time. One tool you might try to ease the impact of the conversation is to simply not have it. Instead try to bring up your concerns using another form of communication like a letter or email or text. You could also remember that sometimes, some things might be easier to see and deal with over time rather than heard and dealt with in the moment.
Don’t Interrogate & Stop Leading the Witness
Another major threat to the male ego are direct and emotional laden or judgment ridden questions. Here are three basic reasons why questions can create problems with the male ego.
1.) Questions can carry judgment. To make a question a question we must use inflection. inflection of tone which might also communicate other unintended messages like judgment, discontent or disbelief. (You did what? Why would you do that? What were you thinking?)
2.) Questions put others in charge of the conversation, namely the person that is asking the questions. For a person who wants to maintain hierarchy, letting someone else lead can be very difficult.
3.) Questions usually demand some form of answer with more information. The mere fact a question was asked implies that an answer be given. Many men don’t want to tell others the deeper thoughts that they really have never shared.
Instead of asking your partner questions, try just restating what you’re seeing. Just say it like it is a fact, not needing to be confirmed. For example if your husband comes home from work after an incredibly difficult day and just wants to escape from life you might normally ask questions like, “What wrong with you?” “Are you mad?” These questions only make him more anxious and frustrated, and if not answered, then he knows you’ll get more angry in return. Instead, simply try stating what you’re seeing. “Hey babe, you seem down!” or “You’ve been quiet since you got home.” Then just wait and see if he’ll share. If not, try it later when you see his mood has changed.
Let Him Solve It His Way…And Demand Accountability
Most men I work with really don’t want to spend hours exploring their feelings, issues and causes of their weaknesses just so they can correct a problem they’re experiencing with their spouse. Instead they prefer quick more shallow fixes over long drawn out discussions. The problem is that the quick solutions often don’t last and perhaps aren’t deep enough to actually address or solve the “real” problem. So the battle between the female need for progress and male need for peace is always in play. The male ego avoids the long painful discussions where we never seem to go anywhere and instead we choose quick problem solving where we over commit and under deliver, again getting us nowhere. One of the best answers I’ve found though to deal with the male ego is simply to let them move quickly into problem solving mode and simply demand that you have an accountability session within 5 days to see if you’re partners solutions are actually working. That will ensure two great things. First, they’ll be much more motivated to make sure they live up to their end of the bargain. Second, you’ll get another chance to talk with your partner again, and he’ll be more inclined to actually want to do it. In my eyes, it is a total win-win.
Fix Your Problems In the Light of the Day, Not the Darkness of the Night
Which is a more powerful motivator that drives you to want to change? Being noticed and praised for the little things you do throughout the day? Or having someone point out the three things you didn’t do today but said you would? Most people are much more motivated by the light or good things they’re doing, than the darkness or bad things. It’s also better to try to fix something when there is light on the issue, instead of just darkness. For example, if you always find yourself complaining about the fact that you and your husband never go out on a date then quit trying to fix that problem in the dark.
Most men’s egos will reject the idea of wanting to go out with you if all you do is talk about how “he” never makes you a priority. So instead, improve your situation by finding the joy and benefit in the time that you do have together. This week look for a situation where you and your partner have some time without anyone else around. It can be when you’re going to bed, watching your child’s soccer game or waiting for the car oil to be changed. Turn that moment into a moment of light and positivity with your partner. Play with each other, tease one another and find a way to create mutual benefit in that moment, enjoy it, love being together and demonstrate how happy you are to be with him. When you’re done make a positive comment about how much you love being alone with your partner and how you’d love more time together. Odds are if they see the benefit of the moment (the light) and how good it can be, then they are much more inclined to fix the behavior (the dark) in the future and find more time to be together. Remember it’s easier to fix things in the light that the dark, so go create some light.
For more relationship advice, attend:
Smart Life with Matt Townsend
Workshops for Women
Thursdays from 1:00 – 2:30 pm
$15 per person
Call for information and location