I didn’t want to ask my friends for help. I didn’t want to talk to Rachel about my mental health. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I wasn’t happy. I knew I struggled with the three most important forms of communication. Still, I failed to realize that this resulted from learned masculine communication styles. But as a men’s community, Dudefluencer wants to change how men communicate to live healthier and happier lives.
An example happened at our last Dudefluencer team meeting when one member talked about his experience getting a pedicure (seriously Dudes, it’s time to hop on the pedicure train). And when asked if anyone else had gotten one, every single Dude in the room raised their hand. But one Dude remarked that he still felt hesitant, that there was something that always made him squeamish about admitting to a group of men that he had a pedicure.
That’s relatively common because behind most masculine communication styles lies the truth: there is a fear over the perceived loss of manhood, self-esteem, and strength. The keyword is perceived. None of that is true. In fact, the best communicators are those that show emotional courage. There is strength in vulnerability and emotional honesty. For generations, men have been pigeonholed into rigorous masculine communication styles that have negatively affected our lives. Now that we’re aware, it’s time for all of us to make a difference.
Importance of communication in our lives.
Aldo Civico, an Anthropology professor at Rutgers, studied decades of conflicts worldwide and realized one thing they all had in common: a breakdown of communication. “I have come to the conclusion that at the core of the conflict, there is a breakdown in communication and the parties’ inability to understand each other. A conflict is often a dialogue of the deaf.” Think about the entirety of Fast 8. It’s almost two-hours of non-stop cars flying out the window action. And if you really think about it, all of that destruction and death and property damage could have ended if Dominic Toretto just used a phone to call Lettie to let her know he’s got a secret love-child who’s being held captive alongside baby mama.
But there’s no conflict in that.
What I’m getting at is that without the ability to communicate, everyone suffers. The most important skill we need to have as human beings is the ability to communicate. Unfortunately, communication hasn’t always been one of the men’s strengths.
Throughout this article, I will highlight three specific forms of male communication styles: communication with self, communication with others, and communication with partners. All three are instrumental in developing healthier relationships, close male friendships, and becoming more aware of our needs.
Communication with ourselves might be the most basic form of communication. I’m talking about introspection and meditation. To understand our strengths or to problem solve, men must be able to hold internal conversations. You need to understand yourself to craft the man you want to become. As a masculine communication style, it’s far easier for men to ignore spending time with ourselves than become introspective. I get it; that area of your mind littered with cobwebs and dust might be a bit scary to venture through. Remember, when you dare to tackle any challenge (plus a healthy community who always has your back), you’ll only grow stronger in the process.
And I’ve already highlighted the importance of good communication in relationships. Simply put, the best relationships (and longest-lasting) are those that emphasize communication. This trope exists for men that describe masculine communication styles in relationships as stoic and silent. The men see this version of themselves as strong, male, and the protector of the home. But truthfully, quiet relationships are unhealthy relationships. My favorite television relationship is Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope. It’s no wonder that their relationship works because they know how to communicate. Heck, Ron Swanson needed to learn how to communicate to have a healthy marriage (and escape Tammy).
When communicating with others, no matter the gender, the predefined limitations of masculine communication styles directly affect how strong a bond can be. If our masculine communication style asks us to only talk about surface-level topics (i.e., sports, beer, sex), those relationships will remain shallow. Those healthy friendships we make as children grow distant as we grow up. It sucks, but our relationships don’t have to be that way. We can change.
Our goal as men, and as human beings, is to live our best life possible. And that comes from healthy communication, personal growth, and contribution. Suppose we manage to bring all of that together in redesigning masculine communication styles. In that case, we are on the path to a joyful, fulfilling life.
Difference between feminine and masculine communication styles.
I feel like this bit from Mike Birbiglia does a good job explaining just one of the differences between men and women:
I think people assume that I’m implying that men are incapable of being faithful. I think women are just as incapable, but for more sophisticated reasons, you know. I mean, with men, we’re just really simple. We have very simple sexuality. When I say that, my female friends are like, “Well, we like sex just as much as you do.” And I said, “Sure, but it’s different.” And they say, “How?” And I say, “Have you ever masturbated while driving a car?”
And while that ridiculous premise is about infidelity, there are some apparent differences between masculine and feminine communication styles. Fundamental differences. Remember how popular Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was? That’s not to say all men and women communicate differently. Still, if you’re noticing a pattern in conflict with the opposite sex, there might be scientific reasoning to back you up.
Dr. Nikki Martinez believes the issue of communication styles between sexes is simply based on outcomes. Martinez said, “We[women] do need them[men] to hear us out and try to understand where we are coming from. The mere act of being able to get something off our chest, and talk it out, is often all we need to feel better, and that we have processed through a situation.” On the other hand, she noticed that men tend to go straight to problem-solving when discussing a woman. So we sort of listening, but really only enough to get the information needed to give practical advice.
And there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those communication styles. Still, both genders need to communicate their desires early on. One trick I picked up from a friend was at the beginning, or break in the conversation, he’d simply ask, “What would you like me to do in this conversation? Would you like advice or just listen?” Boom. That solves a whole bunch of problems.
There’s also how men and women speak to their same-sex friends.
Take, for example, this joke by Daniel Sloss, where he talks about an encounter with one of his best friends while drunk. The punchline is that men need to be drunk to be emotionally honest with each other. Like most punchlines, it’s funny because it’s true. Masculine communication styles are often stifled by the fear of losing their man card. If we’re too emotionally vulnerable, then we’re afraid of looking weak. But under the influence, well, men now have an excuse, to be honest with each other and then pretend it never happened the next day.
That’s not really an issue for women. Women have had decades of positive examples of supporting each other and showing love for one another. It’s easy to show affection. Women don’t typically need to be drunk first.
Masculine communication styles tend to be more reserved and focused on fixing something. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with that, sometimes, us Dudes need to be more cognizant and breakthrough our communication limitations.
The importance of self-awareness.
Self-awareness, when it comes to masculine communication styles, is fascinating to me. On the one hand, there seems to be a lot of self-reflection happening in our minds. On the other hand, I don’t know how productive self-reflection is when it’s unguided or focused on only our mistakes.
I think that’s why I loved my meditation challenge. Meditating daily forced me to focus on a variety of different aspects of my life. Whether it was my sleep routines or personal goal setting, I allowed plenty of time to communicate. The results have been incredible. I am more focused on growth and contribution, and most importantly, I feel more in tune with my body.
When it comes to having conversations with yourself, masculine communication styles are often too shallow or limiting when it comes to honest and truthful discussions. An article published in The Good Man Project believes that men need to be more uncomfortable with their self-reflection because, in those awkward moments, we can make lifelong changes.
The author writes, “Most men could probably find situations in their past they could’ve handled better. Most men could see this as an opportunity to move forward, both wiser and kinder. Most men could convert this collective movement into a unique opportunity to undertake self-analysis, where the goal is not about berating and punishing, but about growing and evolving. Our culture, and future generations, would benefit enormously from more men undertaking this inner exploration right alongside women.” For me, the highlight of this quote comes from the line “the goal is not about berating and punishing, but about growing and evolving.” Our masculine communication styles often punish us when we make a mistake. Like anyone, no one wants to be punished. So instead of changing our mindset, we ignore self-reflection or put it off for another day.
That’s not the best way. I want you to rethink how you process self-communication: focus on growth. In our Seize the Dude Seminar, we use a series of mindful meditations and exercises to help you positively practice self-awareness. We want you to craft the man you’ll become, but we can’t do that without some introspection first.
Communication is the key to life-long friendships.
Once we’ve established our ability to communicate with ourselves, now comes the challenge of sharing with our friends. Masculine communication styles often dictate how we communicate with our friends. As mentioned in our article about the importance of male friendship, men struggle to admit or identifying when they’re lonely. What happens in those cases is men will work in silence as they know there is something wrong but have trouble understanding what caused it.
Lisa Wade, in an article for Salon, writes, “the friendships they[men] have if they’re with other men provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.” Wade reiterates what many research has shown: men struggle to build real friendships with other men. We can tie a lot of that back to masculine communication styles demonstrating that men aren’t supposed to show emotions or vulnerability around other men because it will make them look weak.
All that does is limit the types of friendships men have, while not fulfilling men’s natural need for community.
Suppose you’re anything like me and had no idea how to start these types of conversations. In that case, I recommend checking out our 11 Deep Conversation Topics piece as it provides an excellent starter for building up those relationships that you already have.
But maybe you’re just trying to build those first connections with other dudes. Two easy recommendations are learning how to be funnier and how to tell a great story. Both of those communication techniques require levels of vulnerability not only on your end but also on the listener’s future. I’d also recommend checking out Serendip, an app that is determined to help all dudes build deeper connections by skipping the fluff and icebreakers.
To avoid the pitfalls of traditional masculine communication styles, it’s essential to recognize that friendships need to go beyond surface-level topics: we need to communicate about our goals, our fears, our happiness, and our pain. True friendship is one that has no wall that stops honest conversations. At our Dudefluencer team meetings, one of the goals is building a profound community of Dudes who are connected and ready to grow. And growth isn’t something that you should have to do on your own, so whether it’s with your group of friends or us, bucking masculine communication style trends is the best way to become the best version of yourself.
But what about the opposite sex? Opposite sex friendships don’t have to be complicated, but for some reason, they are. No, everyone is not attracted to every single person they meet. In fact, science tells us that men and women are perfectly capable of being friends in healthy ways. All of those lessons and examples of building close male friendships can build friendships with anyone.
Think about how traditional masculine communication styles have influenced the way you communicate with your friends. Have they stunted your ability to build close friendships with others? The key to happiness is the community around you, focusing on being an active listener with a curious mind.
Learn how to talk with your partner.
And of course, what guide to masculine communication styles would be complete without talking about our relationships. Communication in relationships is slightly different from communication with our friends, or ourselves, but men’s causation is the same.
Before I go further, I want to provide you something to think about. Men are supposed to think of themselves as the cornerstones of their family or the home’s rock. What that means and how that is presented are a bit different. Presentation-wise, men are supposed to be stoic, silent, and steady—all of the time. The rock (not to be confused with The Rock, a great male role model for communication) is emotionless and tends to be shut-in. Granted, this perception is loosely based on traditional masculinity’s caricatures. There is enough evidence that men have been influenced by these beliefs.
What happens to men when they struggle or are having a difficult time? If they believe they are the rock or the king of their home, they speak to no one. They cannot show weakness; they cannot communicate honestly and vulnerably with anyone.
Men cannot be strong all of the time. They need to have communication skills. Let’s just think of the benefits of healthy communication in relationships. You can avoid simple misunderstandings. You will increase trust. Your sex life will improve. All because you learned how to be a better communicator.
Have you noticed difficulty communicating with your friends? Your partner? Yourself? Now’s the time to make a difference in the quality of your life and push back on traditional masculine communication styles.