Once when I was in premarital counseling with a fool I was most certainly NOT going to marry, the minister shared a valuable tip:

“Seek first to understand before being understood.”

I took the advice, ditched the dude and kept it pushing.

I have taken the scenic route to understanding; after years of ego tripping and fighting to “be [acknowledged as] right,” I now know I have three choices:

I can be RIGHT


I can be in relationship


I can be, exceptionally brilliant, and both.

My idea of “right” now is a little different from having the last word or the last laugh; I feel I am “right” if I am authentic, respectful and clear. To me, that’s a bonafide WIN. So when my mentor gave me a bit of advice about how to facilitate successful workshops — and overall communications — with men, I took her advice and hit the ground running.

She said:

“When communicating with men, keep your responses to five words or less, or else you lose them.”

I played it cool, but behind my placid demeanor my inner cyclic-styled communicator was exclaiming, FIVE WORDS OR LESS?!!!

I took a deep breath in, let the breath out, rolled my shoulder blades down my back and thought to myself, Okay girl. Let’s get it!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am always up for the challenge of experimenting with human-to-human interactions, and this time was no different. Trust: I wouldn’t write this much about it if it didn’t work!

We can spend hours ‘pon hours trying to get a man to understand how we feel about such and such and thus and so (I’ve done it). OR we can try something different. It all boils down to this:

Do you just wanna air all your feelings? Or do you want to truly be heard and understood and honored?

Unfortunately, you can’t have both in all situations. If you chose the latter, then you must understand and accept something FIRST:

“Where words are many, men are absent.”

**Excepting the select few who can follow the train no matter how long the tracks.**


This week, I polled my sister circle to find the top three most challenging subjects/sentiments to communicate with men. Then, I customized a few phrases to get the conversation started IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.

#1: Our Innermost Feelings (Related to His Actions)

Apparently, we find it very difficult to express what we’re feeling in light of some decision he has (or has not) made. Know this: men know more than they admit; you don’t have to be verbose.


“That’s not cool.”


“This seems _________ to me.”


“________ isn’t working for me.”

Only enter ONE word in the blank. The key is a DIALOGUE not a rampage; an invitation not an invocation. We cannot change anyone, so let him SHOW you who he is.

#2: Commitment/Monogamy.

If I had a penny for every time a woman told me of her struggle to convey the importance of building and sustaining trust, commitment and forward movement in a relationship, I’d be a rich woman. Simply put, for this one, you must be prepared to take action if your words aren’t getting through.


“I’m ready to grow. You?”


“Babe, whatchu think about ________ .”


“Sh*t or get off the pot.”

*That was six words, but hey! It’s succinct enough!

#3: Sex.

And it ain’t all good! If he’s not satisfying you in the bedroom, you MUST let him know … like YESTERDAY! Egos be damned! Closed mouths don’t get fed and dissatisfied yonis find other beds, so get to expressing!


“Like this.”

… (Then, proceeds to demonstrate with guidance and affirm when he gets it right.)


Let’s play a game.” 

This “game” is one which you call the shots, and he executes them to your satisfaction if he wants to get points.


“I like __________ . Wanna see?”

Who can say no to that?

Before you go running off to drop your five-word-hitter-quitter on some unsuspecting male soul, check out these suggestions for increasing your chances of success.

Vent First.

TO SOMEONE ELSE … OR YOURSELF! Get all your emotions out in the open to a safe, objective sounding board. It’s wise not to speak at the peak of your emotions; but DO honor them through acknowledgment and expression in a space where they will be heard and honored.

Mean What You Say.

Whatever you do, don’t test him to “see what he’s going to say/do.” Seriously. Honor the relationship, your (and his) time and energy, and only express that which you truly mean to say. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Ask Yourself This Question Beforehand.

Is this better said or shown? Some of the most effective communication is unspoken. My mother always says, “Silence says a lot.” And it’s true. Sometimes silent action is just what you need to get your point across.

Define Success.

What is a “win” for you in this situation? My “win” is the ability to concisely and honestly express myself in five words or less without being too affected by his response. To remain detached, I create a back up plan I am prepared to implement should my words fall on deaf ears.

Feel free to share your 5 words or less below.


2 thoughts on “Cross-Sex Communication: 5 Words (or Less)

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