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Country and Western Therapy - Part II

Saturday, November 02, 2013

By John Goetz, LPC

In a previous article I made reference to something I call country and western therapy. The central point is a person can find homespun wisdom in the song lyrics of country artist. Often this wisdom is directed at interpersonal relationships that have gone bad, but there are an equal number of songs that promote well known but seldom followed secrets to a happy life such as faith, family, and fun. While I am a fan of country music I enjoy a variety of musical genres. To make a long story short while painting a room and listening to Pandora radio, a Raconteurs song by Jack White comes on and I am struck by the refrain. 

Speak to me and don't speak softly
Talk to me and let me know
Grab hold of my shoulder and tell me
Grab hold and do not let go

At that moment it hit me that sometimes this is just what men need from women. Though it flatters us, men, that you, women, perceive that we are engaged in complex thought, are acutely aware of our surroundings, and we are sensitive to the people in our lives and their needs. Let’s stop right there. Majorities of the time men are blissfully unaware and prefer it that way. I would even go as far to say that we, men, have made blissful ignorance a credo, not unlike the scout code of “be prepared”. The refrain to the song makes two salient points when it comes to talking to men about something that is important to you.

First when you talk to your average guy do so directly. Make your point using clear and concise words. No you do not have to be loud just direct. As a mentor of mine once put it we do best with a direct message on a clear channel. In counseling we call this using I messages. The directions would be to speak for you, don’t mind read. Keep your statements brief describing what you need and how you feel about the topic. Guys this is where a smart man can score points by listening closely enough to paraphrase back to her what she just said and how she feels about it. Look up “speaker listener technique” on the internet for more information.

The second point, take action. Ok don’t go grab your guy by the shoulder like the song says, well maybe. The point is men, like children often respond to actions more than words. We have an amazing ability to be in the same room as you and not hear a word you say. No it is not rudeness or indifference. Trust me we have the ability to stare at a tree and to be oblivious of everything but thoughts like when will the pecans be ripe or if built a tree house up there… So if you think we are not listening just place a hand on our shoulder, look us in the eye, and get our attention.

Guys you know it is truly a gift we have to be able to tune out an entire room in order to watch the game. Just be careful you use your power only for good or you might find that the room is quiet because she is gone. Then you will be the same question as Chris Cagel, “what kinda of gone are we talking about here”. 

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