Sometimes men have difficulty in sharing how we feel with other men, and this can be harmful to our well-being if we keep something held inside for too long. Here's a technique that I used to great success when conducting suicide interventions to connect with the person.
If you know (or have a feeling that) the man you are speaking with has something to share but is reluctant to; smile slightly, look at them directly in the eye, and nod your head twice in a knowing way then look away. You can do the same if the man has told you something personal that they were holding inside.
This indicates without words “I’ve got your back”, “It’s okay if you want to say it”, or “Thanks for telling me this”.
The technique stems from one of our socialisation protocols, direct eye contact. Men do not use direct eye contact (looking directly into the eye) unless the person is special to them, or they want to fight. Mostly, men simply look at the eyebrows or base of the nose of the person they are talking with.
When speaking with a man, notice where they are looking. You may think that we are looking at your eyes, often we aren’t. Mostly, our gaze is fixed on one spot or we move our eyes in and out of the conversation. If we look at your eyes, it is actually only one eye. Women look into the both eyes during a conversation, watch as they look from eye to eye.
Men also tend to look at the mouth of the other person so that we can see and hear what the other person is saying. We are reading their facial expressions looking for signs of emotion – happy, sad, or anger.
Ladies, be careful if you use the aforementioned technique on a man. When you smile at a man, look them directly in the eyes and nod your head with a smile, we may misread the message completely.