Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. At least this is what we have been told.
There was a book written with that title awhile back and to me, it served to create the illusion that men and women are polar opposites in terms of species and have little hope of ever really understanding each other
What this author did not realize is that men as individuals are very different from each other. You cannot start an argument with “Men are all ……” and not look ignorant, because all men aren’t anything.
The same is true with women. Not all women are alike. What makes each person wonderful is that they are individuals. They each have their own loves and hates, hopes and dreams.
I know this looks hopeless. If all women are different individuals with different tastes and ideas, how in the name of all things Holy can you learn to talk to each and every one of them? Fear not! What I am about to share with you is a secret. It is the secret of how to talk to anyone no matter who they are and to build interest and ultimately love with them.
No one likes to be reminded of the bad parts of themselves or their painful past. What we are most proud of is who we are innately. We are most proud of the perfect person underneath. When you talk to a woman (or a man or a child) look for the perfect person and talk to him or her.
In some people it is easier to see this perfect person than in others, and in some it is so hidden by strange pseudo personalities and other weird baggage that it is almost absent. If the person you are talking to makes it too hard to access that perfect person underneath, move on. Find someone who doesn’t have as much baggage. And whatever you do, don’t waste your time talking to pseudo personalities. They just aren’t worth it.
2. Take the time to build common ground and understanding.
Practice this skill. Go to the supermarket or somewhere where you will have to interact with people. When you get to the check out, find something you like about the checkout person.
I find that women love jewelry and take time and effort to choose and wear pieces that look nice. If you find a piece of jewelry on them and you comment favorably to them about it, you will be met with the person looking up and seeing you and not some nameless, faceless person. They will automatically start feeling a little better about you.
3. Let the person talk about herself.
This is the easy part. You don’t have to be dazzling or brilliant. All you have to be is a good listener and respond with things that are pertinent to the subject at hand. It really is a piece of cake.
For example, you have just commented favorably on a piece of jewelry (or a sweater or scarf) and the conversation has started. Generally they will tell you a little bit about the piece. “Oh, my mom bought it for me for my birthday!’ You then smile and say “What a great mom you have!” or something that you know she will agree with.
Resist with all your might the impulse to start talking about yourself. This conversation is all about her. If you keep this up each time you go through the checkout line, you will find that soon you are friends. From there an invitation for coffee is a perfect next step to get to know each other better.
4. Avoid subjects on which you do not agree.
There is no quicker way to make someone hate your guts than to take an opposing viewpoint to theirs and then try to convince them that they are wrong. Let’s say your adorable check out person has accepted your invite for coffee! Yay! This is a big step. Don’t blow it now by trying to impress her with how smart, big, or strong you are, and how dumb, weak, and misguided she is. If you do this, this will be your last date and you will have no one to blame but yourself. Instead find things that you agree on.
If you disagree on politics, avoid that subject like a five day old burrito stub that you have just dug up from under the sofa because your negative comments on the subject will be just about as welcome. Stick to the things you wholeheartedly agree on and you will be fine.
5. Don’t violate her personal space.
Your adorable clerk is a woman. She has had her share of guys trying to cosy up to her and get close. Respect her by giving her space. Trying to move in too close when she is not ready for that is a violation of her limits. To her this may mean that if you violate limits now, who knows what limits will be violated when she allows you into her world?
6. Get your personal hygiene handled!
Brush your teeth and comb your hair. Don’t stink at all! I know I shouldn’t have to say this but sometimes people don’t know they stink. Make sure you don’t! If you just had coffee and a cigarette, chew some gum or something!
Check your teeth and make sure you don’t have anything stuck in them. Don’t look all rumpled unless it is sexy rumpled. Pay a little attention to your wardrobe. Look clean and don’t wear old threadbare clothes. No one will respect you if you don’t respect yourself and your outward appearance is an indicator of your respect level for yourself.
Don’t worry if you are a little overweigh or feel you are too short or have any other personal attribute that bothers you. Most people don’t even notice these things. If they do and do not want to talk to you because of them, they are not worth it anyway. Move on! There are many wonderful ladies out there who are looking for a caring and nice person like you.
7. What about gifts?
Most people love gifts but there are times when gifts are unwelcome. Let’s say you and your beautiful clerk are now having dinner together this evening. It is perfectly appropriate to give her flowers but don’t give her flowers, chocolate in a heart shaped box and a new car.
She does not want to be put under an obligation and too many gifts make her feel that she now has to do something for you. While this may sound great, it feels awful. Have you ever shown up at work and forgotten that it was pot luck day and you brought nothing? How did you feel? Did you go around telling everyone that you forgot it was pot luck day and then ate only chips? Did you sneak out the back and give the whole thing a miss because the obligation was just too much? Do you see what I mean?
If you want to impress her, wash and clean your car. Ask her what kind of movie she likes or what she likes to eat and make reservations at a restaurant you know she will love. Take time to create an evening that she will find magical. What will impress her is the care you took and the respect you had for her to take that time.
8. Choose wisely!
Remember! Not all women are desirable just because they are women or because they are pretty. A pretty snake can still kill you and a woman who is negative, antagonistic, or passive aggressive (also referred to as covertly hostile) will make your life, and the life of any children you may have, miserable.
Think ahead before getting serious. If you find that your future girlfriend is one of these types, give her a hearty “So long, farewell, auf wiedershen and don’t let the screen door hit you in the ass on the way out!”
A warm and loving woman with a twinkle in her eye and a sense of humor is far more desirable than a pretty psycho. Beauty can fade over time when it is only on the surface. Real beauty that you see when you see the perfect person underneath is forever. Life is a tough game and only someone who has integrity, compassion and commitment will be there for you when you really need her.
The others, if they are self centered or psycho will be long gone the minute you need a friend the most.
9. Recognize when she is not interested and move on.
Let’s face it, even though you are wonderful, dazzling and brilliant, you may not be someone’s cup of cherries or bowl of tea as far as future boyfriend material is concerned. It happens. If it is clear that she does not want a relationship, then ok. You are not wrong and neither is she. Perhaps you can be friends. One can never have too many nice people in one’s life.
There you have it! The important information on how to talk to anyone. Now go forth young Jedi warrior and use your power for good. I expect an invite to your wedding or at least send me a slice of the wedding cake!
How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake
Despite our best intentions and efforts, making mistakes is a fact of life. Humans are prone to error, so we are inevitably going to mess up at one point or another, which is why it’s so important to learn how to apologize.
Many of the slip ups we make won’t have any impact on those around us, but what about the times when they do hurt someone else, either inadvertently or purposefully? Do we ignore the mistake and hope it will go away on its own? Do we confront the mistake, however painful that may be, and apologize? How we react to our mistakes defines both who we are and how we are perceived by others.
I’m a voice and presence coach specializing in training people to find their voice and speak their truth. One of the most difficult tasks I teach my students is how to apologize authentically. It takes a lot of vulnerability to admit wrongdoing, and even more so to seek forgiveness and make amends. (After all, we live in a world where some of our top leaders openly avoid taking accountability for their mistakes.) However, like anything else in life, if you ignore something painful instead of facing it, that pain tends to grow and appear in other parts of your life.
So how do you apologize effectively? Technically, there is no one “right” way, but there are plenty of ineffective ways to go about apologizing. I’m going to approach this from the perspective that we are genuinely remorseful and wish to make amends for the hurt we have caused.
Simply saying the words “I’m sorry” is easy, but it’s important to match the intention behind your words. Apologizing authentically when you have made a mistake—uttering remorse that is grounded in your truth—is more complex, and that’s what we’re going to cover here.
In order to make a genuine apology where your words are backed up by your truth and your genuine emotion, I refer to a practice introduced to me by a friend several years ago: the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer. Now, I’m not an expert in the history of this prayer, but having meditated with it for a number of years, I’ve found that this practice of reconciliation and forgiveness is incredibly powerful.
Ho’oponopono means “to make right” or “rectify an error.” What sets this prayer apart is the focus not on controlling a particular outcome (i.e. healing the hurt relationship you have with this person), but instead the focus is on healing yourself in order to heal the situation.
It’s profoundly simple, and translates as follows:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Everything we need to apologize is right here in this prayer. Let’s break down the structure of this apology into these 4 concrete steps for before, during, and after the apology.
Before you start speaking and leading from pure emotion, it’s important to actually figure out what you are sorry for:
Start by Writing Down the Facts
When you’re writing this out, avoid assigning any judgments to the scenario or making any assumptions about the person affected by your mistake; really stick to straight facts. Dump the whole situation onto the page, not leaving out any little details.
Ex. You were struggling with an issue. I responded very bluntly in my feedback, and I saw tears form in your eyes.
Ex. You came to me with an issue. I was answering an email on my phone, and I didn’t respond much because I was distracted. I looked up and saw tears in your eyes. You walked away.
Write Down Your Part in Making This Mistake
Stick to your contribution to the mistake only. Avoid writing about anyone else, even if they were a factor in you making the mistake. Simply focus on what you did that you know helped create the situation.
Ex. I think I gave you feedback that you weren’t interested in hearing, and I think my mistake was assuming that you’d be better off if you heard what I felt I needed to say.
Ex. I wasn’t fully present to listen to you when you were in distress. I think my mistake was continuing to work on my phone when you were talking, instead of saying I needed a moment to finish what I was doing first, or just putting down my phone so that I could listen.
Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling by Grounding Yourself in Your Truth
I teach a process to my clients called the Voice Body Connection process, which starts with grounding yourself in your physical sensations. This process will help you find your voice and speak your truth objectively, even if you are flooded with strong emotions in the moment.
Now that you have relived the experience of making the mistake by writing it out, tune into your body, and ask yourself the question:
“What is the strongest sensation I feel in my body right now?”
Be sure to keep this body-based. When you are preparing to apologize, taking note of your sensations helps you ground yourself in how you are feeling so that you can show up.
Make Sure You Actually Want Reconnection
If you don’t feel safe with that person, there’s no reason to apologize and reconnect. However, if you feel safe and comfortable with them and desire to be connected again, then you can proceed to the next step of the Ho’oponopono prayer.
Step 2: Please Forgive Me
You’re not going to share everything from your process above with your friend. What you are going to share is your acknowledgment of the hurt you caused, your part in creating that situation, and your desire to reconnect.
It’s also very important to be clear about only speaking your truth and not commenting on their side. That’s their job. You can use this script by filling in the observations you noted above:
I think <a simple statement about what happened> happened between us…
And I think my mistake was <insert your part here>…
And I was left feeling <insert your emotions>…
and moving forward, I would want is to <insert your desires>.
Ex. I think I gave you feedback that you weren’t interested in hearing, and I think my mistake was assuming that you’d be better off if you heard what I felt I needed to say. And I am left feeling sad that I crossed your boundaries. Moving forward what I really want is to apologize, be close to you again, and assure you that I will ask permission in the future before giving feedback.
Ex. I wasn’t fully present to listen to you when you were in distress. I think my mistake was continuing to work on my phone when you were talking, instead of saying I needed a moment to finish what I was doing first, or just putting down my phone so that I could listen. And I am left feeling sad that I hurt your feelings. Moving forward what I really want is to apologize, be close to you again, and assure you that I will be more present in the future, or tell you that I need a moment to finish what I am doing so that I can be present.
Once you’ve shared that, stop talking about yourself. That’s all you needed to say to get the conversation started. Start listening and be curious. Ask open-ended questions about their experience like “How did that feel for you?” When you do speak, let them know that you hear what they are saying, and you acknowledge your impact.
Step 3: Thank You
After you’ve expressed yourself, leave space to see the impact you’ve had on the person. Understand that the reaction may not be what you are expecting or hoping for. The act of apologizing is about centering the other person’s experience, not about putting the focus on yourself.
Now that you have asked the other person about their experience, it is quite possible that they will say things you don’t want to hear. You may find yourself feeling defensive or even angry.
A stressful situation like this can also trigger “Fight or Flight” mode in your body: you may notice that you start sweating, that your pupils are narrowing, that your eyes tear up, or that you start experiencing tunnel vision. This is all normal.
To help stave this off, get genuinely curious about what their experience has been. Don’t listen to be “right.” Listen to be connected and to understand.
Thank them for everything they’ve said, and for being in your life.
Even if they say something you don’t like hearing, thank them anyway for sharing the truth of their experience. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary step towards your own healing in the Ho’oponopono prayer.
Moving Forward After the Apology
Step 4: I Love You
Let’s say you’re actually at a place where the relationship you have with the other person can be repaired. “I love you” encourages curiosity: how can you repair and reconnect? How can things look different moving forward?
Think of something you can do to reconnect with each other, to express and experience your love, appreciation, or respect for each other. Make a plan for how to move forward.
Continuing the practice from Step 3, make a list of things you are grateful for about the other person. We don’t often stop to share how much we appreciate each other, and it feels as good to share appreciation and gratitude as it is to receive it.
This last portion of the prayer is not just for the sake of the other person your mistake affected. It’s for you as well, to ensure you are healing and able to move on from the mistake. It’s easy for many of us to beat ourselves up and continue to hold onto guilt, or even shame, about a mistake we have made, even though we are genuinely remorseful and have tried to make amends.
Maybe you will find yourself apologizing to yourself for hurting yourself inadvertently, too.
When we speak our truth as an apology, we show up fully in our truth without expecting anything of the other person or trying to encourage them to behave in a certain way. While we cannot affect or control the outcome of the apology, no matter how repentant we are, following the Ho’oponopono can guide us to true repair and healing.
If you have been stuck on finding the “right” way to reconnect and apologize to someone in your life, I hope you will find yourself inspired to take that first step to make things right.