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Apr 3, 2011

Trust in Me...

Have you ever been at a job or working with a group and noticed that some people seem to micromanage everything?

They tell you want they'd like to see or what they want you to get done, but it doesn't stop there. They stick their nose in every part of your work. Sometimes, it's because they have a specific vision of how it should be. Other times they're just control freaks (though control freaks will just say it's about making sure the project/work is coming along they way they envision).

That inability to let go - it communicates volumes about them. Including a fear of not being in control and a basic mistrust in others. The two go hand in hand. What other reason would someone have to constantly look over my shoulder and/or making small corrections or reminding me to do the task in a specific way? It is those fears and that lack of trust in others that leads them to try and force everything to go their own way.

The opposite is also true. When someone puts that confidence and trust in our hands, they communicate "I know you'll do a great job, I'm sure it'll turn out spectacular" and we get a sense of pride, a feeling of confidence. They believe in us, and they expect the outcome will be great too. And it spurs us to do even better. To validate the trust, to show our capabilities and live up to the expectations. 

In relationships, it works the same way. I've dated women who want everything their own way, who tell me how to do all the little things. Ugh. It communicates basic mistrust (of people, of men, and of me in particular), it makes me want to do those things less and it's just unpleasant. I really dislike feeling controlled that way, it makes me want to disconnect from them and push away.

However, the other side of that coin... what pleasure! To hear a woman communicate trust in me -ladies pay attention here -it makes me want to do better, do more. In particular, I believe, because of my male ego.

Everyone has an ego -we all like to be admired and complimented. But the male ego is unique. One of the things men want most -particularly in a relationship -is to be admired. When we get up in front of a crowd or up to bat at a baseball game, we imagine hitting a home-run for the express purpose of being admired by women (Credit: Dennis Prager).

Most male competition boils down to that. One huge reason we create and work so hard to stand atop social hierarchies is to be admired by women. The reason teams started having cheerleaders is because they noticed that the (male) players worked harder and did better on the field with women cheering them on (the downside of which is getting distracted).Why do you think so many guys (especially when they are in their teens) dream of being professional sports players?

Similarly, when there's a jar or bottle that's tough to open, ever notice how guys try really hard to be the one that opens it? It's just a cap, it's practically nothing! But -when it is a challenge -the competition prevails. Every guy wants to be at the top, because he wants to be admired (even for something as silly as a cap or cork). Show a little admiration for it, and you'll see. Women who learn this young seem to have the men around them at their fingertips, as if under a spell of magic.

When a woman says "I really admire a sensitive man. When I notice a guy being sensitive I immediately think about wanting to date him." My brain is already figuring out ways of being more sensitive and ways of showing her that I'm really a sensitive guy. Especially if I find her attractive or have any interest in her. It's hardwired into us men.

You want into a man's heart? Show him your genuine admiration. Want him to work on something, to improve an aspect of himself, to change for the better? Build up to it with admiration, and show trust in his character and abilities ("I really admire when a guy..."). The more he cares about you, the more important your admiration is to him. Even better, admire him in public.

What is the right way to admire a man? As much as we occasionally like being labeled "my hero," it can get tiresome. And it sets up an expectation, which can be frustrating (particularly if a guy doesn't measure up). The best way is to be specific and to comment on the effort and accomplishment. Let the implication of the words carry the compliment. For example, let us go back to the challenging jar or wine cork for a moment. Saying, "wow, that's tough to open, you've got to know what you're doing, and it takes serious strength!" implies a compliment of the accomplishment using his skill and strength without explicitly saying so. It allows the man to tell himself "yes it does, and I did it!" which enables him to feel pride in himself.

One of the most common reasons I hear from men who break up with women, break off engagements or initiate divorce is that the woman was overly controlling. Women who don't show admiration for their men, who don't show trust, who are controlling, commanding, demanding or micromanage, who don't understand how important admiration is to a man... will hurt him, make him resentful and push him away. 

Ladies, I've handed you the key to influencing men. Be patient, show admiration and show trust in him. Let him grow.

If I'm having a tough time or facing a huge challenge, what I would appreciate most is my wife's admiration in how far I've come and trust in me to get through. If she immediately starts trying to help, telling me what to do, how to fix it or giving me advice -it may communicate that she sees me as a failure or not competent enough to deal with it myself.

I know it can be anxiety provoking, sometimes y'all just want to help. For a group of women with a hard-to-open bottle, they care much less about who opens it, and more that it gets opened. I know y'all mean well when you offer advice or try to help, because that's how women are with each other (giving unprompted advice and helping each other out all the time) but often it's just better to show trust and admiration. Otherwise, you may end up pushing a man away by -perhaps accidentally -communicating a lack of trust and admiration in him. 

Yes, yes. It's a crazy thing we men have, this male ego. But it's how we are. You can accept it and work with it -and we'll be eternally happy if you do -or you can hurt and push us away. Your choice.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I believe men should work on this too, not to take it personally when we are offered unprompted help/advice by a woman. Women want to help when they care about someone, and the more they care the more they really want to help. We should take her help as a sign of her caring, and she should work on helping through communicating trust and admiration.)

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