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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

5 Signs He's Taking the Relationship Seriously

Robert Manni - Friday, March 18, 2016

Whether it’s in business or a relationship, getting blindsided and dumped sucks. And who hasn’t been there at least once in their lives?

You may have thought things were all rosy after a series of seemingly great meetings or dates, but the other party or person may have had a completely different take on the situation. After five interviews and meeting everyone from the CEO to the maintenance dude, you assumed the job was yours, but they never called you back. Or after that torrid weekend at the beach you thought it was true love, but he thought it was a summer fling. And he never returned your texts after that.

Unfortunately, that’s how life works, amigos, so it’s important to take stock of your business and your relationships on a regular basis. For the purposes of this post, your Guy’s Guy will share his musings on the ways women can get a read on where they stand with that special someone they’ve been dating for a few weeks or months. Let’s call this The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Knowing It’s For Real.

So, here are five crystal clear signs your man is taking you and your relationship seriously.

1. He takes himself off the dating sites – This is huuuge. One of the toughest decisions a guy can make after he connects with a special woman is suspending his profile on all the dating apps and sites. For a lot of men this can be harder than quitting porn. Guys are visual and there is nothing like sitting back with a cold one in your tightey whiteys while surfing the dating dates for a fresh crop of female photos and profiles. I know it sounds cold, but guys like looking and playing, and these sites and apps can be addictive to men, and for women, also. So if your guy takes himself off these sites on his own, consider that a check plus. If you ask him why his profile is still active and he tells he will shut them down and does, that’s a check. If he either avoids the question or answers in Trump-like double speak, consider that a red flag. It means he’s not taking your relationship as seriously as you may have thought. Your move.

2. He asks you to go on vacation with him – When you think about it, going on vacation with someone is technically only an extended date with luggage and back-to-back sleepovers. If you’ve been seeing someone for a few months you’ve probably already slept with them or spent a weekend together. But taking a trip with someone for the first time can be a big thing. Everyone has their own style of traveling and if a couple is incompatible when they’re on the road, it could be a deal breaker. So, just the fact that he’s asked you to hop on a plane with him is a really good sign. Now all you need to do is show up, pack wisely, and be the very best version of you. You can do that.

3. He wants to introduce you to his squad – Another seemingly insignificant gesture is actually a big deal to guys. Sure you meet new people and get introduced every day on the job, but meeting a guy’s crew is for him an invitation into his inner sanctum. And depending on his taste in friends, it is not always a pretty place. Which is another good reason why meeting his friends is a good thing for assessing your relationship. Say yes if he asks you to meet his boys at the bar. You’ll learn a lot while enjoying free drinks.

4. He invites you home for a holiday – Similar to meeting his friends, meeting his family is another telling adventure and a sign that he is taking you and your relationship seriously. You will definitely learn a lot about your guy and what makes him tick once you meet his family, but the main thing is that he thinks enough of you to invite you in the first place. Do the smart thing and show up. The drinks are free again, but this time don’t get drunk.

5. He pays attention – This is the key sign that your guy is really into you. It’s all about the little things and noticing the details women notice about their guy. Whether it’s remembering which Chardonnay you prefer, noticing and complimenting your new blouse, or knowing how tired you feel after that series of big meetings, if he’s paying attention to the details of your life he’s showing you respect and is focused on making the relationship work.

Sure there are more ways of finding out if your guy is taking you and your relationship seriously, but I think these five behaviors are reliable bellwethers for clocking his interest level and for your consideration of him as keeper material.

This Week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is, drum roll please…. me. After three dates I asked my wife what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. She smiled and said, “pay attention”. That was a wake up call. I took myself off of the dating sites, focused on building this relationship I was interested in, and eventually asked for her hand in marriage exactly one year to the day later. Hey, you’ve gotta have some game to be a Guy’s Guy.

Guys' Guy's Rules to Recharge Your Dating Life

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 03, 2016


Spring is right around the corner. Birds will chirp, bees buzz for honey and the animal kingdom gets frisky. It’s time for love, people.

But finding love can be a challenge. Every single person hunting for a partner faces obstacles and hurdles, even in springtime. They might overbook their schedules, get too jammed up with work, or simply be too tired and wiped out by the end of the week to go out. Men, women, it doesn’t matter. Every so often we need to take a step back and take stock of our dating life and how we’re performing based on our expectations. Think of it as your heart’s annual review. So this year, let’s get it done in time for spring.

For many daters it’s either feast or famine when it comes to love, with dates either coming in bunches or no action whatsoever. Maybe all that swiping left and right has led to digital dating app burnout or maybe they’re just stuck. The reasons are less important than the fact that every now and then we all need to step outside ourselves and take inventory of the possible things we may be doing that prevent us from making the right love connections.

With this in mind, your Guy’s Guy again dons his thinking cap and slips on his Cupid’s arrow quiver once again to help singles take stock of some dating do’s and don’ts before heading back onto the field. Think of it as a halftime pep talk where plays are discussed, strategies are tweaked and players are reminded of who they are and what they stand for before whooping, hollering and charging back to the field to kick some ass and take some names. Okay, maybe they're not literally kicking ass. It’s more like taking names and scoring digits before making a hot connection.

Here are seven tips to power up your dating life. Drum roll please…

1. Know your brand – The most successful daters know who they are, what they stand for, and how they stand out from their competition. It’s marketing 101. You establish an authentic personal brand based on an honest assessment of who you are inside and outside, what you have to offer, and why you are uniquely qualified to be a someone’s special someone. You don't have to be a supermodel to catch a great guy. But you do need to take a look deep inside and figure out who you are, what makes you tick, and why you are an awesome catch. And then show off your confident self.

This goes for men as well as the ladies. Too many guys drink beer on their couch, watching Rangers games and getting fat, thinking they should be banging models every night. Hint: it’s not going to happen unless your name is Leo or you have a Trump-sized bank account. And, even if you carry those assets, if you are a jerk, your dating triumphs will be short-lived. All daters need to be honest about who they are and what they have to offer. That’s not a bad thing; we are all different. We are all special and we are all deserving of love. Never forget that, amigos.

2. Re-establish your goals – Following your self-assessment, ask yourself what you really want out of dating and a partner. If you’re looking for a partner, remind yourself every so often while booking dates. Or maybe you want to have fun and play the field for a while. That’s cool too, as long as you don’t lead people on who are looking for something more than a hook up.

3. Don’t overbook your schedule – Let’s face it. Some people can’t bear the thought of spending even a few hours sitting quietly at home. They want to live, live, live until they die, or so they think. The reality is that being super busy all the time and double and triple booking your schedule does not make your life any more successful or meaningful. It just makes you busy, sometimes so busy that you can’t see the forest through the trees. Too many dates and activities can hinder your ability to get to know yourself and potential partners who you want to get to know on the inside so you can understand who they are. I’m not suggesting you stay home five nights a week and miss out on all that fun. I’m merely recommending that you make time for yourself so you don’t lose track of your personal brand and stated dating goals.

4. Be open-minded – Everyone has a “type”. That’s all well and good provided that you don’t get too wrapped up in the packaging. Let’s face it; too many single young ladies turn into middle-aged single ladies because they have an endlessly growing list of attributes and must-haves for the men they date. Sure, this can be the result of having real dating experience and knowing the types of guys to avoid. I get it, but at the same time there often is a direct relationship between the length of the list and the shortage of men who fit all the desired criteria. It’s tricky, but it’s important for singles to keep an open-mind if they expect to meet interesting people and make new connections. My most successful relationships did not begin with matching a list to a person. They all began by taking a chance on getting to know someone new who was smart, attractive and nice.

5. Be kind, but firm – Karma really is a bitch and it never hurts to do the right thing. So if you feel you have given someone a fair shot and it’s simply not working for you, then by all means, let him or her know that you are not feeling sparkles. Then move on. Sure, you could also just disappear and not respond to their texts, but how would you feel if someone treated you that way? Be firm, but do your best to treat people respectfully. At the same time, respect yourself and don't waste your precious time by trying to fix guys. It's not your job.

6. Online to offline, every time – Winters can get cold in the Northeast and Midwest, but if you don’t go out, your chances of making a love connection are diminished. You need to use your time wisely, and that’s where the online dating apps and websites come in handy. I know from my personal experience that I initially connected with lots of attractive and very cool women while I sat in front of my laptop in my tighty-whiteys. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, nowadays that seems to be the norm. The tricky part is migrating your online connections into the offline, or “real” world. This is a mission critical step to dating success. You want to meet your digital connections in person as soon as possible and not waste time with too many texts, apps, emails and other tools in the digital landscape. If you ultimately want a real life partner to rumple the sheets with, you need to get out and make a connection in person.

7. Don’t settle or give up. Dating is not for the faint of heart. It can feel tough, cold, and heartless. But when two people click, it can be blissful and make all of your previous longing, loneliness and heartache worthwhile. The key is never giving up and never settling for less than your worth. You are a special person. You deserve love. If love emanates from you, you will attract love. If you get dumped or get hurt, brush yourself off and claim your worth. No one with self-esteem wants to be with someone who doesn't want to be with him or her. It’s that simple.

Be the light. Raise your vibration and the energy grid to meet the one who is worthy of you from that purview. Forget what’s passed and never be hard on yourself. Love yourself. Love the world. Be love. It can happen. It will happen.

This weeks GUY’S GUYS, AND GAL’S GALS OF THE WEEK are all the daters who were rewarded for their patience when a special someone finally came into their lives. Staying positive and keeping an open heart are the keys to dating successfully and making lasting connections.

Ask The Guy's Guy: Meeting an Online Connection for the First Time

Robert Manni - Monday, September 21, 2015

Ask the Guy's Guy: How to Connect with Someone Online

Robert Manni - Friday, August 28, 2015

Ask the Guy's Guy: How to Keep Your Man Happy

Robert Manni - Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Holiday About Love That Everyone Hates

Robert Manni - Thursday, February 12, 2015

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it, and I’d like to have a chat with St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do.  The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was his romantic legend a creation of Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this enigmatic man had been spun more times than a soggy towel around the dryer.  Then a slew of corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, or jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced his “brand”.  And since it’s a holiday we are now treated to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and that big red heart on their calendars.

What’s the one word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day?  

Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you very clearly that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, making you feel less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, then you have to up your game and deliver the goods - big time. Women love flowers and chocolates, and like receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And although she’s digs jewelry, on February 14th it must be diamonds or gold, and it better sparkle. All men love seeing their woman dolled up in new lingerie, but if her outfit is really for him, who buys it for Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be unsettling. And he probably forgot what size she wears and does not want to make a mistake.  You’ve seen guys wandering around the store checking out other women’s boobs trying to figure out if they could be the same size as his girlfriend’s. And trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl. Pressure.

So how do we get through this annual ordeal?

I have no clear answer. And to ratchet up my own personal helping of pressure, my wife’s birthday is on February 12th. I’m totally screwed. Okay, breathe. There’s hope. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is if they can rally the troops and muster up the moxie for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt out there.  And when you hit the bars keep your eyes focused on those ladies on the lookout for some man-meat and off the hockey game playing on the big screen. If you’re a man who is in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something fresh. Buy her some well-deserved pampering at a top shelf spa or offer to cook her a romantic dinner.  If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. K.I.S.S., as they say. Keep it simple, stupid! As for me, I might end up caulking the bathroom tile before taking her out to her favorite raw food restaurant.  But, I’ll do that on her birthday. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.

How to Seal the Deal and Keep it Real

Robert Manni - Thursday, January 22, 2015


Some say that for men, finding a willing sex partner has never been easier. But it’s not quite a glamorous as the media leads us to believe. After all, not every guy has six-pack abs, lots of bank and hooks up with a new hottie on Tinder every Friday night.

And although lot of young guys aspire to be a “Don Jon” style ladies man, many young bucks get sidetracked by porn, the ease of technology and watching too much sports. As a result, “hanging out” has become the new definition of dating. As a result many dudes think they have their swerve on, but are pretty limited when it comes to conversational skills and social élan.  And that’s no way to discover real intimacy with a prospective partner. Enter your Guy’s Guy with a handful of tried and true tips that can help any guy show respect for his partner while getting his ticket punched along the way. And, trust me, if you follow these guidelines word will get around with the ladies that you are one righteous hombre. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when meeting a lady of high interest. Drum roll please.

1. She wants to go to bed with you.

Women are like banks that prequalify lenders. That doesn’t mean everyone gets the loan, but if she agrees to a date, you're in a good position. Stated another way, when a woman agrees to go out on an actual (not hanging out) date with a guy, chances are she’s already thought about having sex with him. Women pay attention and they think ahead. And they don’t like wasting time. At this point it’s up to the guy not to screw things up. But, in the majority of cases that’s exactly what happens. They find ways to drop the ball, and like rookie running backs, they end up on the sidelines, hoping and waiting for their number to get called again. Keep this in mind and you are on a fast track to success.

2. Date like a Guy’s Guy.

Although she’s fitter than you and capable of tapping you out with an arm bar, today's women pine for men to treat them like ladies. That means being a gentlemen and asking her (not texting her) out by phone, or better yet, in person. That also means having a plan in mind that matches her interests. That requires some active listening on your part. She mentioned loving sushi? Need I say more about where to take her on that first real date?

When you greet her, tell her she looks pretty. Put the damn phone down and pay attention to her during dinner. Pick up the tab. Afterwards, hail a cab for her. If things go well and she invites you back to her place, good for you. That said, play it cool and don’t push her. She will let you know how you are doing, but don’t expect the whole enchilada on the first night (more to come on that). Read the signals and know when to go home. On the way home or the next day send her a thank you text. Tell her you had a great time and would like to see her again. Then follow up. That’s all, my friend. 

3. Be patient, be creative.

Good things come to those who wait and improvise. Quick story... One summer a few years back I connected with a hottie on Match. She had curves, piercing black eyes and legs to die for. Oh, I wanted her badly. The first time we met, we shared coffee at a café in the East Village. That was it. She knew she was smoking hot and I was unsure she wanted to see me again. That week I asked her out again and we met for a casual dinner. Following a late night drink she gave me a quick “goodnight” peck on the cheek. My balls ached the entire cab ride home. We met for drinks again that week with the same conclusion. Grrr.

I needed to try something different. I asked her to join me at a Fourth of July parade in the little seaside town where I have a small beach house. On a star-spangled sunny morning we stood side by side taking in the colorful wholesome, real Americana event. She was originally from Taiwan and I noticed how her eyes light up during the parade. She was totally into the pageantry. Afterwards I suggested we stop at my place for a soft drink. As we looked out at the sea I slipped my arms around her and leaned in for a kiss. She accepted my lips eagerly and a few minutes later we were rumpling my sheets like tigers in heat. Patience and creativity had paid off. 

4. Clean up your crib.

I’ll keep this short. Women appreciate a guy with clean sheets and a clean bathroom. I’ve lived in a few dumps in my day and have not always followed this rule. And on occasion I’m sure it prevented me from sealing the deal. Over time I learned that when your place sparkles, you have a much better shot at making hay with a lady. Case closed.

5. A little romance goes a long way.

The women I know really appreciate when a guy does something thoughtful. A bouquet of flowers (no special occasion required), a bottle of her favorite wine, and cooking her dinner can go a long way in sparking a woman’s interest in pleasing a guy. Think about it… And do it because you want to please her, not just for the reward.

6. Be appreciative and take care of her needs.

It took me awhile to get this one straight, but once I saw the light, my love life and sex life really took off. As a guy I know how desperate we can get when we want to get off.  But there is a big difference between getting off and making love. You can get off by yourself. You need a special lady to make love. And if you take care of her needs first and consistently, she’ll probably give you get everything you’ve dreamt about.

There’s more, lots more where that came from, but let’s put a wrap on this for now. A few insightful nuggets can go a long way in the evolution of a horn dog guy to a mature loving man.

Back to Basics: How to Make your Relationship Work

Robert Manni - Thursday, December 18, 2014


With the multitude of dating sites and coaches available, if you’ve got a pulse and can clean up nice, you’ll get a date.

And every so often one of those dates turns into a relationship. That’s where things get tricky. We spend so much time focused on dating that many of us are not prepared to address the slippery slope of a partnership and how to make it work.

Enter Guy’s Guy. I’ve been there and done that by way of many dates, a few educational long-term relationships, and a marriage that’s going on five years. Along the way, and as my partners would aptly point out, I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. But I’ve learned, and in most cases I learned the hard way. And each time I got knocked on my butt, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again. Now I’ve got a partner who is my friend, lover, and teacher. With that in mind, here are my building blocks for maintaining a successful relationship.

1. Pay attention.

If you’re a guy, you probably suck at this. Women pay attention to everything, at times to the point of madness. But ultimately, paying attention is a good thing. We’re all super busy and focused on ourselves. I get it. But if we want to succeed in love, we need to see it as a two way street and behave in a respectful manner to our partner. That means always checking in with them on a regular basis. A simple, “How was your day?” is a good start. And mean it. And listen to what she says without feeling that you have to solve all of her problems for her. Just listen.

That’s a good start, but it’s not that simple. If you are guy in a relationship eventually you will get called on your shit. Let’s say your partner points out your selfishness too often, and it bugs you. But maybe she has a point. And maybe the reason she told you is she thinks you’re worth the trouble. If she didn’t care, she’d bide her time before dumping you. Most guys have been blindsided and dumped, and many times they don’t know why. This is why. So don’t take her criticism personally. She’s paying attention and she cares about the relationship. But, don’t think you can point out all of her peccadilloes in the same way. She’s already well aware of them. That’s because she pays attention.

2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

If you’re female, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of constantly criticizing your partner’s faults. He probably doesn’t pay attention enough and as a result is prone to repeating his mistakes. But I’ll bet he’s trying. So lighten up if you can. If you believe in your relationship and your partner, it’s paramount to take a deep breath before going on the offensive. Ask him what he was thinking when he does something that defies logic. Like, when he took the bed apart and left all the pieces on the floor and then went out for two hours. Maybe he went to the hardware store to buy new bolts. Whatever. Just give him an opportunity to explain and you might be surprised by his response. If you value your relationship, listen before pointing your finger.

3. Share values.

Long lasting relationships are usually built on a foundation of shared values. That means how both of you view the world and the people who inhabit it. Yes, opposites attract and can provide a nice counterbalance personality-wise, but when it comes to values, it helps if you are seeing the picture through a similar lens. How you view people, friends, family, and even money are important factors to consider when wading into deeper relationships waters.

Let’s take money. When one partner is a free spender and comfortable with debt, how does it impact their partner if he or she comes from the school of “if I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it”? Problems can quickly ensue and many times divergent money values cause irreconcilable harm to a relationship. Think about your successful and failed relationships and I’m sure you’ll see a pattern between longer-term compatibility and shared values. When values match up, there is a much better chance for success. Think about it.

4. Keep the lines of communication open.

When you are in committed relationship there will be times when no one feels like talking. Maybe one partner has become resentful while the other has no idea about those feelings. Eventually the repressed toxins build up and explode. Things are said. Feelings are hurt. Damage is done. If only you knew how he or she felt. But, that’s how many relationships fail. If this sounds familiar, remember, no one can read your mind. If there is something bothering you, discuss it. If you hold your feelings in and suffer silently, your relationship is at risk. Always maintain a healthy dialogue.

5. Always be dating.

It’s easy to take our relationships for granted. Over time, the thrill of new love evolves. This can actually be a good thing. Sure, you want the sight of your partner to be a source of joy and you want the sex to get better and better. It can, although there will have to be some adjustments. The key is keeping things fresh, like when you started dating. And that means never taking your lover for granted. I’ve been married for a few years now and I’ve learned that nothing is a sure thing, even a marriage. You have to constantly learn about your partner and up your game if you want to keep them happy with the direction of the relationship. Nowadays, people don’t settle. Not in life, not in jobs, not in marriage. We want what we want, and that’s not a bad thing. The key to keeping things fresh is romancing your partner. Little surprises, lots of love and affection, and a genuine smile when you see their face are all recommended. I know it’s not that easy, but if you keep this in mind, I’m sure you’ll stay ahead of the game.

There is more, lots more when it comes to keeping a relationship rolling, but the bottom line is to respect yourself, your partner, and your relationship. It all flows from there. What you decide to do is your business, but please keep love in mind whenever you are thinking about your relationship. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

This week's Guy's Guy and Gal of the Week are Serge and Carole Manni, my folks, who have been married for 64 years. 

5 Ways to Survive a First Date

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 05, 2014


You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

When it comes to dating, truer words have never been spoken. First dates can be exhilarating, anxiety-driven, fun-filled or disastrous affairs. We’ve all been there and we’ve all had some successes and a few massive fails. That’s part of the reason we keep coming back for more—you just never know what’s in that box of chocolates, Forrest. Whether you’re a guy or a lady, there are a number of ways not punch your ticket and move on to the promised land—the second date. Assuming that there’s enough chemistry to make the initial connection, here is my Guy’s Guy list of first date pitfalls to avoid in order to make it to the second date.

Don’t show up late.

A Guy’s Guy shows up first. He never leaves a lady he’s interested in sitting alone at the bar all dressed up, nursing a cocktail. It’s rude, it’s just plain dumb and it’s an invitation for other men to move in on your turf. If you’re a lady, it’s fine to show up to fifteen minutes beyond the anointed time. Anything later and you risk the same fate as the aforementioned guy.

Don’t drink too much.

Alcohol can be a great social lubricant, especially following a hard day at work. A glass of wine, a craft beer, or a cocktail are all fun choices. If the conversation’s flowing and you can handle your booze, it’s okay to call for a refill. But after two drinks, things can go downhill quickly. It’s way too early to start sharing details of your sex life or personal history. One time, on a particularly memorable first date, after two drinks the woman professed her love for oral sex. Take one guess what was on my mind for the remainder of the evening. Yeah. You get the picture.

Have an exit strategy.

Let’s say you finally meet the guy who sent those snappy text messages and he’s less than charming in person. The lack of sparkles prompts you to hatch your escape plan, but it’s if not easy because he’s a nervous chatterbox who won’t shut up. So you make up a lie about having an interview the next morning while reaching for your bag. Awkward. It’s much better to lay the groundwork at the beginning of the date by telling him that you can only stay for one drink. This way you’re having a great time and decide to hang out, he’s going to feel like he’s the man who convinced you to change your plans. Everybody wins.

Don’t talk about your ex.

If you want to start things off on the right foot, avoid droning on about your failed relationships. This goes for guys and gals—nobody you’ve just met wants to hear the gory details of your past. Keep it light and find things to discuss that are all about the “now”. It’s all that matters anyway.

Don’t have sex with him/her.

A Guy’s Guy believes that when it comes to sex, all decisions should always be in the hands of two consenting adults. It’ll happen when it happens. Ladies: it’s perfectly fine to leave something for the imagination, or maybe even the next date. Guys: please demonstrate self-control on that first date. The woman will notice and she’ll secretly thank you for being a gentleman.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. With a little planning, mindfulness and common sense, you can have a great time on that first date and maybe even turn it into the first step of a new relationship. Good luck.

Think you can make it through that first date like a pro?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Listening

Robert Manni - Friday, May 30, 2014


How many times have you told a friend or colleague something of importance only to see their eyes glaze over while you pour your heart out?

Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s them. But we’ve all been “them”. What I mean is, our crazy world and its demands set our minds on overdrive for most of the day. So unfortunately when someone is speaking to us, many times we’re either thinking of our response or what we want for lunch or that we have to pick up the dry cleaning or sex. It’s a sign of the times. Too often people talk at each other. If you don’t believe me, next time you are sitting alone, fiddling with your Samsung Galaxy, eavesdrop on those people at the adjacent table or seated close by on the train. You’ll probably hear one person dominating what is supposed to be a conversation, but is really a download. That fact is, life is tough and we all need to be heard. 

But take heed. It doesn’t have to be this way. You, yes, you, can turn one of these verbal dumping sessions into a positive experience. It takes a little work, but it can be done. Here are my Guy’s Guy tips for active listening. We’ll use the example of two BFF’s here, but the template works in business, also.

1. Take a deep breath.

Let’s say your bestie has just lost her job or she’s having  major love issues with her partner. She probably wants someone to hear her out and empathize with her struggle. She may or may not want your suggestions right now. She simply needs to hurl and you're within range, so you need to prepare yourself. Remember, we all face trouble at one time or another and it is helpful to tell them to a friend. Inhale, exhale, and get hip to the situation. It’s your time to listen.

2. Shut up.

Now that you know what the conversation is all about, you want to clam up and hear her out. If you feel it is necessary to slow her down or if you need a break, ask her something like, “so how do you feel about that?” This may get hear thinking about how to fix her problem. The same holds true in business, especially a service business. You need to find out where the pain points are before you can add value and sell a client a solution. So, do your best to keep your lips zipped and let the other person have their say before adding your two cents. It’s part of being a friend or a good business partner.

3. Think about what she is saying.

That’s code for actively listening instead of tuning out or thinking about that cute guy with the long fingers in your yoga class who reminds you of Daniel Day-Lewis. The reality is that your friend is confiding in you for a reason. She needs someone to talk to, and more importantly, she thinks highly enough of you to give you with the honor of dumping her data on you. So be the good friend you signed up to be and deploy some psychic energy so that you can help her out.

4. Ask what she’s going to do.

This will also get her thinking about solutions or what she needs. This is also a good time to ask her if she wants your point of view. If she agrees, you might start out with questions that crystallize the issue what she wants to get out of it.

Let’s say she lost her job and she’s on a rant about her a-hole boss who pushed her out. Maybe ask what would bring her the most joy career wise and the type of work would make her happy. Just your asking her this question may help her realize that she never really liked being in advertising and that she’s always wanted to open up a flower shop.

5. Ask how you can help.

This is what friends do. This is also what smart people in business do. They look for ways to be of service to their friends, colleagues and clients. Yes, I know business always comes down to making money, but business is conducted between people, so you’ve got to sharpen those people skills to get ahead, and better yet, to be of service.

At some point you’ll be the one who needs a shoulder to lean on, so be generous and sympathetic when someone starts downloading on you. Of course if their M. O. is to do this every time you get together, then you might not want to hang with them. Unfortunately, when this happens in business, you’ll either need to suck it up, or find a new client.

Are you a good listener?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the people who work in retail or the customer service field. They listen to people’s problems all day. They probably need someone to talk to when they get off work.


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