Episode 17: Alison Armstrong: Creating Peace in the War Between The Sexes (part 2)
Alison Armstrong: Creating Peace in the War Between The Sexes (part 2)
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Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. Our guest on this show is Alison Armstrong. Alison is the founder and guiding light of PAX programs Incorporated, that’s PAX. She is the creator of the Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women Workshop, and the author of ‘Keys to the Kingdom.’ Those of you who have been listening pretty regularly, you have probably heard Alison in our last show.
We have got her back again. Alison is a remarkable person. She designs and leads transformational programs for adults. She has been doing it for over 20 years. She creates these workshops for helping women to understand men, helping end the war between the sexes, to really create peace. She is just a wealth of information on how to communicate and on what men really want and on what women really want. I’m really thrilled that she is here to talk to us again.
Alison Armstrong: Men are what I call single focus, and your brains work very differently. You take our questions really seriously, but it’s like a train on a track. So, it’s going to get going, and if you don’t interrupt a man when he is answering a question, he will pick up speed, and the conversation will get more and more interesting, and deeper and deeper, and richer and richer the longer she listens.
Women don’t know that men’s opinions are a combination of the information he trusts and his value, his identity. So, if a woman can shift to listen to learn, which literally by – as she is listening, she is asking the question, “What matters to him? What matters to him? What is he telling me about? What’s important to him? What is he showing me? What matters to him, what matters to him?” If she is asking that question, then it will be a treasure chest.
Chip August: I think if you ask a man, “What lets me know you really love me?” I’m guessing, cooking my favorite dinner does not figure in the top five. If you ask a woman, “How do you know I really love you?” I’m guessing, getting my car serviced does not figure in the top five, and yet that’s what we do.
Alison Armstrong: The partner question, which is, what do you need to give me what I need, and I have to teach women, when you are asking them that question, what do you need to give me what I need? Give up any expectation that what he is going to say will make sense to you.
Chip August: So, welcome Alison.
Alison Armstrong: Thank you.
Chip August: On the break, when we were sort of in between shows, I started talking to you a little bit about my attitude about interruptions. Let’s talk about that on air, so I’m bringing that back right now. Alison was mentioning that it would fine if I interrupted her if I felt like she was going on too long, and I was saying that I have this sense that men interrupt women too much, and that one of my personal goals in my own development is to not interrupt women, because it feels like I’m disempowering people in my life.
I have a daughter and I don’t want to disempower her and I don’t want to disempower other woman. So, I noticed you had a reaction to that Alison, so I’d love to hear.
Alison Armstrong: Well, it’s great because interrupting doesn’t work in either direction, from men to women or women to men. We do it for completely different reasons and it doesn’t work for completely different reasons. Can I talk about that?
Chip August: Please say more. I’m fascinated.
Alison Armstrong: Well, in the last show, I gave women the exercise of asking a man a question and then putting imaginary duct tape over the mouth, and just listening for the answer. Women tend to speak more like off the top of their head. You can ask me a question and I’ll have an answer for you right away.
So, women interrupt men before they even start speaking. We interrupt you when you are thinking about the answer to the question. It’s because you haven’t started yet. We figured since you are just a hairy woman, you should have already started speaking, and if you haven’t started speaking, you must not have understood my question.
Not knowing that, that men are what I call single focused, and your brains work very differently, and you take our questions really seriously, but it’s like a train on a track. So, it’s going to get going, right? If you don’t interrupt a man when he is answering a question, he will pick up steam and the conversation will get more and more interesting, and deeper and deeper, and richer and richer the longer she listens.
But because women are not single focused or what I call diffuse awareness, which means to pour in every direction. Which by the way is what causes us to multitask and appear very distracted to men, because we think so differently. We don’t understand that this guy is on a track, let him keep going, and if you do – if women would just listen to men without interrupting, we would experience the intimacy that we want with men.
Actually if you combine that into the certain way of listening, to learn from a man, because men are naturally concealing. You are a warrior, so you conceal your – your instinct tells you to conceal your strengths, that you have the element of surprise and conceal your weaknesses, so that they won’t be exploited. You conceal your attachments, so they won’t be used against you.
So, men are – it’s the opposite of women, which is know me, love me, save me, but if you can listen to a man instead of from do I agree or disagree with you. If you can listen to learn, men reveal themselves. Their values, their priorities, what really matters to them in everything that you say. You could tell me about a golf game and I’ll find out who you are, but you have to listen to learn. So, if a woman is listening to learn instead of to agree or disagree, and she doesn’t interrupt, oh my god, she will have all the information and intimacy she ever needs.
Chip August: So, by listening to learn, I think what you are saying is, to tease out the underlying emotions and values as opposed to just listening to the plot.
Alison Armstrong: Yeah, like one of the things men have in abundance is opinions, and women get really annoyed, because women don’t know that men’s opinions are a combination of the information he trusts and his values, his identity. So, in every man’s opinion, whether it’s what kind of golf club you should have or public education or how to improve your relations with your husband, in every men’s opinion is a piece of himself.
Chip August: Wow.
Alison Armstrong: Yeah, it’s awesome, and mostly what happens is when a man is expecting his opinion, because women survive by connecting with other people, we listen do we agree with you or not, hoping we will agree with you so we can find points of connection. That makes us feel intimate.
Often when men are expressing their opinions, their opinions are so different from ours, we end up without those points of connection and we end up with greater distance. So, listening to a man’s opinions, looking for connections actually has us end up with more distance and it’s kind of torture for us.
You guys have an abundance of opinions and you want to express them and we are tortured the whole time. So, if a woman can shift to listen to learn, which literally by – as she is listening, she is asking the question, “What matters to him? What matters to him? What is he telling me about? What’s important to him? What is he showing me? What matters to him, what matters to him?” If she is asking that question, then it will be a treasure chest, and she will be fascinated.
It doesn’t matter what he is talking about. It can be the 560,000th time that he has talked about motorcycles; it will still be fascinating, because he is revealing himself.
Chip August: This is remarkable. You are starting to make me feel like I’m totally transparent. We are going to take a short break here, give a chance to support our sponsors. This is Chip August, I’m talking to Alison Armstrong, and we’ll be right back.
Chip August: You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August. I’m talking to Alison Armstrong; we have been talking a little bit about men and all the things that she has discovered about men. I’m curious Alison, what do men really want?
Alison Armstrong: I think men want to be heroes and be loved even when their best wasn’t good enough.
Chip August: Yeah, I think there is some truth in that.
Alison Armstrong: I think men want to be appreciated, which mostly needs to be shown instead of said, which is not so natural for women. Definitely want to be accepted…
Chip August: Can you say more about that, the difference between speaking appreciation and showing appreciation and what things show appreciation to men?
Alison Armstrong: Well, for example, one of the things that went out of fashion with the feminist movement and like I said, in the last show we owe the feminists we were [xx], so this is not about that. The menial chores became beneath women, and not knowing that in the simplest thing like a shirt that’s ironed or a lunch that’s made, that a man can feel supported and appreciated, small acts of kindness.
Chip August: Got it, so basically the way you’re telling a man that you are appreciating them are by these small acts of kindness. Without these small acts of kindness, words aren’t enough or you just don’t think words aren’t enough ever or…
Alison Armstrong: It depends on the words actually. In our course, ‘Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women,’ we teach the six most powerful words that a woman can say to a man, because they connect with who a man is at his core and they communicate, and they are clear and they are direct. They also require a level of sincerity and heart that many women are not willing to show.
So, there are words that are very, very, very powerful, but in my experience to make a [xx] centralization, no matter how much a woman says she appreciates him, there are certain acts that if she doesn’t do that, their words are not enough. He doesn’t feel appreciated.
As each gender, we tend to do what we both need. Men will show their appreciation and a woman will be lacking for words and vice versa. If we can learn to interpret the other person’s communication, then we can both end up with more of what we need. Like when I know that my husband filling my car with gas is him saying he loves me and supports me, he appreciates me, then that’s a kick.
Chip August: Right. Yeah, I’m listening to you and I’m thinking – I work with a lot of couples and the thing I hear is, he says, well I took your car to the service station and I got it serviced, and I filled it with gas, and I washed it, and can’t you see that that’s the way I’m telling you I love you?
She is saying, well I made your meals and I knew that this was your favorite dinner, and so I cooked you this favorite dinner and then I cleaned up after dinner, can’t you see that’s how I love you? What I get is that often – no, we are not actually seeing these acts as ways to say I love you.
Alison Armstrong: Yeah, I think we need to ask, because women are compelled to please men, but to hear out what pleases you by observation instead of asking, and not knowing what really connects. I think we need to ask each other.
Chip August: Right, I agree, because I think if you ask a man, what lets me know you really love me, I’m guessing cooking my favorite dinner does not figure in the top five. Right, if you ask a woman – how do you know I really love you, I’m guessing getting my car serviced does not figure in the top five, and yes, that’s what we do.
Now, I’m big on telling couples they need to actually talk. Like one of the things I do with couples is, I actually have them give verbal appreciation to each other. Do you think this is valuable, do you see the value in this?
Alison Armstrong: I think it’s fabulous, and again I think we need to tell each other what connects. This is what I most want to be appreciated for, these are the words that matter the most to me. These are things that when you notice them, I feel seen and gotten and appreciated. We need to be very specific.
Chip August: Right, but that leads us back to women self esteem then. I noticed that so many women are afraid to ask for what they really want, because they are afraid that the guy is just going to say no.
Alison Armstrong: Well, there is two parts. One is, afraid that a man will say no. Another -- which by the way we are afraid of that, because oh my gosh, we have asked you for what we needed at the wrong time and with the wrong words. Then we don’t get what we need and then we assume it’s because you don’t want to give me what I need.
Not knowing that it was the presentation. So, this is one of the things we teach in all our courses. It’s how to ask men for what you need. Which includes when and the words, and what to say so that he is not in the defensive to begin with. Then to ask what I call the partner question, which after saying exactly what it is that you need, and telling a man what it will provide, because men are not task oriented.
You are result oriented. You don’t live to take out the trash, but if it makes you feel like a princess, that’s good. OK, I’ll pick up the trash, because if that’s the result – and then the partner question which is, “What do you need to give me what I need?” I have to teach women, when you ask a man that question, what do you need to give me what I need? Give up any expectation that what he is going to say will make sense to you, because for example, most women need their partners to take the trash out.
Most women, it makes her feel appreciated and honored and not a maid. Most men are willing to do it, and most men will say what they need is to be told when it needs to be taken out. Most women think that is insane, because…
Chip August: Right, can’t you just see it?
Alison Armstrong: Exactly, and they don’t understand – given the way that men think and organize themselves and commit themselves all the time to what they are doing, that they actually do need to be told when it needs to be taken out. If you are willing to provide that, you can have your trash taken out all the time. I actually have to ask my husband to not take the trash out. If it’s not ready, that would waste the plastic bag.
Chip August: I’m laughing because I’m thinking, should picking up the trash really be a goal in relationship, and yet I know in my heart of hearts, I mean I hear enough couples, what they break up over is taking out the trash, doing the laundry, doing the business. That actually these little trivial things really matter.
Alison Armstrong: Well, the way I say it is, 95% of life is incredibly mundane. We are not jetting to Paris for lunch.
Chip August: I know I’m not.
Alison Armstrong: So, a relationship and love as an act is going to show up in laundry and trash and meals and made beds or unmade bed, which is a hindrance to men and women, an unmade bed, because how [xx] if you want it. It’s in toothpaste caps and how often do we have sex, and now you really into it or not. I mean that is life.
Chip August: Yeah, we need to take another short break to give a little support to our sponsors. You are listen to Alison Armstrong on Sex, Love and Intimacy, I’m your host Chip August, and we will be right back.
Chip August: We are back, this is Chip August, and you are listening to my guest Alison Armstrong. We are talking about Sex, Love and Intimacy. Just as we went to break, Alison you were saying something about – we were talking about all the mundane things that men and women want, and I noticed the thing we haven’t talked very much about is sex. So, let’s talk for a moment about sex here. Is there a real difference between what men want and what women want and how does that all show up in this?
Alison Armstrong: Well, I think there is more of a difference between what we need than what we want. It’s an area of huge misunderstanding. We do a whole weekend on men and sex and then we have an R rated section in the Understanding Women workshop about sex. You probably know way more than I do.
Chip August: I only know a bit.
Alison Armstrong: It’s a different area than mine, but I think one of the biggest things that women don’t know about men and sex is how much for a man a satisfying sexual experience depends upon how much pleasure did his partner let him give her. We are been taught by Cosmopolitan etc. etc. that to be a great lover is how much pleasure we give, not how much pleasure we are willing to receive.
Chip August: Right and that will work really well for all the very, very narcissistic men and for everyone else, yeah. When men talk among men, and it’s hard to get them to admit this, when you ask them like what was one of the greatest moments during sex, they will tell you, “Oh, my partner had this screaming orgasm that went for like 10 minutes. I felt like I was a king.”
Alison Armstrong: Yeah absolutely, and women don’t know that. Honestly when I founded that, I became very lazy in bed. My husband became really happy. So, I think that’s really important that the giving and receiving, we need to really practice receiving and realize that men are providers. That’s in the core of who you are, you are a provider. Your most satisfying moments are going to be when you’ve got to give something that was completely received and valued.
Chip August: Yeah, and of course we are back to that thing you were saying in the last show about women really need to find that temptress and that queen, because that queen wants to be served and that temptress really invites the right kind of service.
Alison Armstrong: Yeah, and it’s the kind of service – I’m so glad you brought this up Chip, because so many times when women think of service, it’s more like hierarchical, it’s more like made. Or if you are serving me, you are less than me. What I have discovered about relationships in men and women is when a woman allows a man to serve her, and then is honored that a man such as he would do that. That’s when it gets what I call [xx], you know, you’re really yummy.
Chip August: Now, we are almost out of time. I want to – before we go though, I want to say a few things, I want to ask you something first though. You know I like to give my listeners an exercise. Something that they can do on their own or at home that can enhance the sexuality or the love or the intimacy that’s in their lives. At the end of our last show together, you had a great exercise for women. Do you have an exercise for men that maybe you could give us?
Alison Armstrong: I do, and I think your woman listeners can actually teach this to their men too. At the beginning of the show, we were talking about that men and women interrupt for different reasons. Men interrupt because men have two what I call default ways of listening.
So, if the person that’s talking is fine, and man is listening, “What’s the point?” If the point does not become clear pretty soon, he’ll interrupt and ask a question and the question usually is, “What’s the point? Could you get to the point, could you cut to the end?” If the person speaking is upset, then the man will listen, “What’s the problem?”
Men listen from that, because you are glorious compulsive problem solvers and you hold yourself accountable for solving the problems of the people you care about. If the problem is not becoming clear, you’ll interrupt to ask a clarifying question in order to be able to solve the problem. Why this doesn’t work with women is because – and this is what men need to do OK?
You want to think of a woman as a gatherer, and she has this big basket and she goes out in life, and she puts all these things in her baskets. All the things she has thought and she has felt and that people were wearing and that was on sale, and things that happened, the things she wish should happen. They are all going to the basket, and when the basket is full, she feels incredibly uncomfortable.
She can’t listen, she can’t pay attention, she can’t receive anything else. She has got to empty her basket, and women empty their basket through show and tell. So, she is emptying her basket, she is going blah, blah, and he is listening, what’s the point? Or if she is upset as she empties her basket, he is listening what’s the problem?
In those interruptions, in that deflating that you described earlier, what’s actually happening is, he has interrupted the flow of the emptying of the basket. It’s horrible for a woman for that flow to be interrupted. We are all about flow and we just needed to flow out, and so what I teach men to do, it’s so much easier and it works really well, but women need to set men up to do this, because it’s not natural.
So, a woman would say to her husband, “Honey, I got to empty my basket, just hold the trash. There is no point, if there is a point, I’ll make sure that I underline it, but as far as I can tell there is no point, there is no problem. I just have to get it out, would you please hold the trash?” Then, God bless men, being single focused, I’ve watched hundreds of men do this. A woman is talking and he is thinking over and over again, instead of what’s the problem, what’s the point, he is going, “Hold the trash, hold the trash, just hold the trash.”
He is totally focused on holding the trash and “Anything else Honey, was that it? Is there anything else?” If you ask a woman, “Is there anything else?” She feels like you have just given her the hugest gift, “Oh, I can keep emptying?” “Yes honey, keep going, is there anything else?” When a man says to a woman, “Is there anything else?” We have a moment of ecstasy, our chest fills with happiness, and oh my gosh, amazing foreplay, just hold the trash. At the end of it, we are glowing and peaceful and available.
Chip August: Well, is there anything else?
Alison Armstrong: You’re good, you’re good Chip.
Chip August: It would be a great – that’s a terrific exercise to practice. It’s really great to just like – for men, just let her run with it and just keep holding the trash and just periodically say, “Is there anything else?” Just notice, how much of it you can hold. That’s a terrific exercise; I think it’s a great idea.
Alison Armstrong: It can be a trash with a tube at the bottom that’s going out; you don’t have to remember it.
Chip August: Right, you don’t have to remember it.
Alison Armstrong: You don’t have to remember it, that’s important, because you guys are trying to remember. You don’t have to remember and there is no point.
Chip August: Which is really difficult for men. Remember this, you don’t have to remember and there is no point. The act of listening is the point; it’s not actually a concept.
Alison Armstrong: Yes, you will solve her biggest problem just by holding the trash, and because it’s not natural for men. It’s naturally to be providers, and if I say, “How you can provide for me the most is by just holding the trash,” then he will consciously do that, but she needs to ask for it, because what’s natural to him is what’s the point and what’s the problem.
Chip August: You are just a fount of information. I feel like I could talk to you for days and days and days, but sadly we are out of time. So, first, I just really want to thank you for being our guest on these two shows. I have really enjoyed talking to you, I hope we talk again sometime in the future, thank you so much.
Alison Armstrong: You are welcome, and thanks for the work you do.
Chip August: Yeah, and listeners if you have questions or you wanted to just send me some email or give me some suggestions for future shows, you can email me at [email protected], that’s personallifemedia.com. If you want to try leaving a voicemail for me, we have a new voicemail system, so you can leave voicemail for Chip August by calling (206)350-5333.
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