The third instalment of The 10 Challenges of Loving Executive Men is all about communication.
When we first started dating, he talked to me as if I was a client. He was always being politically correct and careful not to offend me by disagreeing with me too much and not trying to adamantly prove his perspective as being the correct one. It was polite and almost charming at first, but I knew it wouldn’t last.
I was right.
Because when that stopped and he got more comfortable with me, he started talking to me like an employee. Requests lost their pleases and thank you’s and started to sound more like instructions or demands. He wouldn’t hesitate to correct me and there was no sensitivity offered when doing so. It was not cute and I was not having it. I brought it to his attention and he reflected on it. A few days later, he emerges with an explanation for the cause of his communication style. It intrigues me so much that I just have to share it with you.
Similar to a pro athlete who spent childhood weekends waking up early to go to practice or being at tournaments, executive men have spent much of their adult lives submerged in being groomed to lead in the same environments where they now call the shots. Long hours at the office, talking to the same people in the same way for years and talking to very few people outside of the work environment leads to a one dimensional communication style overtime.
My ex executive – we’ll call him Chris – was raised in Toronto. After graduating from university, he left Toronto and moved to a small town in another Canadian province. He knew absolutely no one there. If you’re familiar with Canadian geography, you know that the size of one province is equivalent to an average of 3 or 4 US states or about 7 European countries. That means if you’re moving to a different province, you’re moving very far away from loved ones.
Chris is now running the company in which he started out as a young employee. That promotion happened just last year. For two years prior he held a senior executive position. For 8 years prior to that, he was a front line employee and a middle manager. During those 8 years, he didn’t make a single trip back to Toronto in an effort to meet his financial and career goals. He also didn’t date much and didn’t have a social circle in the new town. To prevent himself from feeling isolated, he put in long hours at the office.
So, during those 8 years all he did was talk to employees and clients and he was expected to do so in a certain manner. That manner became his communication style.
When Chris was promoted to a senior executive role at his company, he made his first visit back to Toronto. Friends and family could hardly recognize the successful, well spoken man he’d become. He went from speaking Drake to speaking Warren Buffet. He was celebrated for his dedication to his career and the success that he had earned. Naturally, he felt proud of who he was, including the way in which he communicated. But, never having been in a committed relationship, he didn’t realize how out of place his communication style was when he spoke to a love interest, until I brought it to his attention.
I wasn’t looking for Drake and I certainly was not looking for Warren Buffet. I was looking for Brian McKnight (aren’t we all – am I right ladies??). He had no clue how to do Brian McKnight, though.
Being the natural problem solver that he was, Chris sought to improve his communication with me. So, he did what he always did when he wanted to get better at something. He went to the bookstore. I admired Chris for being willing to recognize his shortcoming and to grow and improve, especially in an area that he and others believed brought him great success. This ability to recognize and act on rectifying problem areas is one of the biggest reasons that make executive men not only successful, but also SUPER attractive!
It is also easier to fight with someone who is willing to admit to and correct their faults. That makes for a lasting relationship. Yes, I said it is easier to fight…because let’s face it, fights do happen in healthy relationships.
All right, enough chit chat. I know you’re dying to know which book he read and if it worked at fixing his communication style.
The title of the book is 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. 5 Love Languages is in an easy to digest story format with almost no scientific words that psychologists use to describe human communication. It talks about how the giving and receiving of love falls into one of five different modes of communication. For example, if my idea of being loved is receiving flowers, but his idea of giving love is to offer compliments, then I’m not going to feel like I’m getting love and he won’t feel like his love his being received. After finishing the book, Chris passed it on to me. He said that reading it would help bring us closer to being on the same page in terms of how we communicate with each other. After all, communication builds trust.
I read the book uninterrupted from cover to cover in one Saturday – yes, it was THAT good!
Also, I wanted to be on the same page as Chris as far as our communication went, sooner rather than later. As soon as I finished the book, I picked up the phone to call Chris and we compared notes on the following:
- Which of the 5 love languages he was using in our relationship prior to reading the book. We compared his thoughts to mine.
- Which of the 5 love languages I was using in our relationship prior to reading the book. Again, we compared thoughts.
- What his preferred love language or combination of love languages was and in what sort of distribution.
- What my preferred love language of combination of love languages was and in what distribution.
We also tried to see if either of us had used the other’s preferred love languages in the past to help us identify what to do more of.
Fighting over an issue like communication is often one that causes couples to break up. Often the hardest thing to do is to recognize that there is an overall communication gap and not a difference of opinion or behavioural issue at play. Reading the 5 Love Languages brought Chris and I closer together in a collaborative way and it felt amazing. Fighting with executives is a whole other ball game and ladies, let me tell you, it felt GOOD.
Let me know which of the five love languages is your preferred method of communicating and how your man delivers. Drop me a comment below or shoot me a message via our buffet of social media options above.
Ready to tackle challenge 4?