Have you ever had one of those moments when you are talking with a man and it feels like you've hit a wall?
Because you have hit a wall. It’s that Mars and Venus stuff. You could almost be from different planets. Suddenly, you're not talking the same language.
And the way that you know - or could know that you're not talking the same language is this: the other person isn't hearing you; he's not making sense of what you're saying.
That happened to me very recently. Not with my lovely partner, but with another man that I really needed to communicate with effectively. We were communicating by email.
I said to him pretty much the same thing that I say to a lot of people and I got a pretty sharp reply back. He told me that my terminology was cringe-worthy.
Actually, he wasn't wrong.
For the purposes of communication, I was just using the kind of cliches that a lot of women use – because we women instantly understand them.
This man didn't understand them. He wasn’t even going to try: they offended him. End of.
If I wanted to communicate with him, I was going to have to speak his language. My communication could have to be short, sharp, and concrete.
I understood that. And I didn't take his directness personally.
The problem was: how do I communicate more effectively about matters touchy-feely in the language of a rather direct, Alpha male?
I'd love to say that I simply flicked a linguistic switch in my head and instantly translated what I had to say into Alpha Male language. But I didn't. I’m not fluent in Alpha Male.
Instead, because there was a lot riding on the effectiveness of my communication, I started second-guessing myself. And then what happened?
I found a thousand other touchy-feely, cringe-worthy ways of expressing the same thing, as I cudgelled my poor brain to do better – and my poor brain refused.
Then I remembered the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire option, and phoned a friend: an Alpha male Russian friend. I told him the problem, and within a few minutes he helped me arrive at the solution.
Of course, he pitched it absolutely right, man to man.
Now, I understand that in personal relationships, taking time out to phone a friend may not always work. Not least because you don't have the luxury of time, and distance that you have with email.
I also know that there are times when I realise that my lovely partner and I are not communicating in quite the same language.
We all know what can happen next: voices are raised – purely to aid comprehension – frustration sets in very fast, tempers and blood pressure rise, and the Finger of Blame can be pointed.
It's hard to stop an argument once it's started. So, if possible, it makes sense not to go there, in the first place.
With my lovely partner, I've reached the stage of registering when the communication is not getting through.
That's a great signal that I'm not speaking to him in the right language. (Sure, I could argue that he's not speaking to me in my language, but that would only open the way up to blame, and powerlessness.)
When communication is not getting through it’s a sign to abort the line of argument right there.
That's not about giving in, or silencing your own voice.
It's about accepting the pointlessness of listening to the sound of your own voice when the other person won't.
Much better to abandon the point then and there, but keep the connection. After all, that is the important thing. Isn't it?
Further down the line, when you are calm, and have thought how to put whatever you want to say in terms that Mr (Alpha) Male can understand, you can use mention whatever it is you wanted to talk about. ( In between times, you can always use the Phone A Friend option, provided you don't select an inflammatory friend to speak with.)
I'm not saying men are like pets – perish the thought! However you are more likely to have their relaxed attention when your voice is calm, and reassuring, and what you say connects with the way they think.