Communication Skills: The Four Unholy Words


If there are four words that are guaranteed to strike terror into any man, even the most hardened. Those words are:

“We need to talk”

In my opinion they should be stricken from the vocabulary of every woman on the planet.

When a man hears those words this is what he understands:

  • You’re in BIG TROUBLE mister and you’re going to get it, now!
  • WARNING!!! WARNING!!! Enemy attack imminent!
  • Red Alert! Battle stations! Battle stations!
  • Raise the barriers, man the walls, pull up the drawbridge.
  • Shields up!
  • Brace yourself for impact.
  • This is going to get UGLY!!!!!

To put a man on the defensive, and nullify any effect of whatever it is you want to discuss, then just go ahead and use those words. You will accomplish….. NOTHING.

Do you want to know why?

Those words have been associated with reprimand and punishment. Every time a man has heard those words they are followed by bad news. They are used when:  he is about to get dumped,  mama wanted to punish him, when his boss has turned down his promotion etc.

In other words, he’s been a bad boy and he’s going to be forced to hear why before his punishment is handed out. I wish women would remove that phrase from their vocabularies. (I still get nervous and jumpy whenever I hear them.)

So, you wanna talk to him. Yeah, you have serious issues, I know, I hear you. So how do you go about doing this in a way that will facilitate communication? It’s not easy, I know. Let’s go through the wrong ways first:

  • You do NOT ambush him as he walks in after work.
  • Neither do you do this while he’s watching the news or a sports game on TV.
  • And definitely NOT in the bathroom, when he’s on the pot doing his business. You laughing? Don’t. My wife did this to me once.

Put your feminine wiles into practice. Timing is of paramount importance. You need to find the time that you know he is the most relaxed. Next, is your wording. You broach the subject by asking his opinion or his help. e.g.

  1. I have something on my mind and need your input. I’d appreciate a minute of your time.
  2. Can you help me solve a dilemma I’m in? I only need a minute.

If you cannot find the right time, ask for it. “Honey, when you’re up to it can you come find me? I’ve been thinking about something and would really appreciate your help. It should only take five minutes. When is the best time?”

Notice a few things in the above example sentences:

  • there are no alarm bells ringing
  • there is no pressure on him
  • you’re giving value to his opinion or help
  • “it will only take a minute” or very little time.

Now, once you have his attention you raise one issue with him. Only ONE. Men work in serial and not in parallel. Think of your husband as a baseball player. He is holding the bat and waiting for your pitch. If you keep throwing ten balls at him, all at once, he’s not going to know which one to hit. That will result in him walking off the field and will leave you standing there throwing balls into an empty net. So… ONE ISSUE AT A TIME.

Another thing. You raise the one issue and SHUT UP. e.g. “I’ve been thinking and realized that we have very little time together. What do you think about that?” Then STOP! And wait for his answer. Depending on the severity of the subject and issue you raised, he may walk away. Let him walk. Do not pursue him. You got the message across. Give him time to think about it and get back to you. As much as you would like an instant solution, he may not have one. If he doesn’t give you an answer in a couple of days, gently remind him. “Hey, have you given any thought to that thing I mentioned the other day?” — Note: Avoid the use of the words, ‘talked’, ‘discussed’, ‘problem’ those words put pressure on him.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought and helps improve communication with your husband.

Original Discussion

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2 Responses to Communication Skills: The Four Unholy Words

  1. Daisy72 says:

    Great article!

  2. Larry says:

    Why raise the issue and then be quite? Yeah, we know you have processed 73 different arguments to overwhelm with us with. We know you’re loaded for bear when you want to talk. And we know we are totally unprepared compared to you. Thus we are at a disadvantage and we know it.

    Want to hear a guy go into overload and guy speak, making no sense at all? Load him up with why you are right and nothing he can say will make a difference – at the beginning of a discussion. Let your guy have a chance to process whatever it is you are wanting him to deal with. Let him have a chance to think about it. This does not mean you have to let him off the hook.

    “I know you probably haven’t had a chance to think about it, just please do me a huge favor and process it so we can talk, ok?”



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