To: Male Coaches that Coach Female Athletes (husbands and dads too)
Let me piggy back off of my last blog, I Got Wires, and continue talking about the differences in men’s minds and women’s minds. You know, the funny thing is that no one ever fights me on this. There isn’t a husband out there that doesn’t know without a doubt that his wife’s mind works in a completely different way. We all know men are from mars and women are from Venus, yet we aren’t grasping the concept that since our brains are so different, maybe, just maybe, we don’t handle our fear and doubts the same. Maybe we don’t even build confidence in the same way.
To start, let me talk about this “nothing box” that men have. What a beautiful concept that men can actually turn their brains off and think about nothing. What a dream. But we, as women do not have that luxury. Our brains go 24/7 and usually at 100% at all times.
I’ve also learned that when most men are stressed or frustrated, their favorite place to go is their “nothing box”. Most men don’t like to talk about it and they want to be left alone. And if they do talk about it, they usually go to their buddy, get some advice on how to fix it and move forward. Again, men are simple creatures. They have a problem, they want it fixed. Period. Then move on.
You know what women need to do when they’re stressed and frustrated? Speak. We need to talk it out. Do we always do that? No. And then we let it all build up without talking about it, our emotions go on overload and we explode and have an emotional breakdown. You know I’m right. Every husband has seen their wife have one, and every dad has seen his daughter have one. And every male coach has seen it too. (So, ladies, piece of advice; please don’t hold it all in, Speak!)
So, men need things to be fixed. Women need to talk it out or “vent”. When a man goes to a friend with a problem, he needs that friend to be a “fixer.” When a woman goes to her friend with a problem, she needs that friend to be a “listener”.
So, putting all that information together, I think we can all agree that men are naturally “fixers.” Again, that’s simple, right? If there’s a problem, fix it so you can move on. But, as we all know (and again, no one ever fights me on this); women aren’t simple. Our problems have emotions tied into them. Our problems have our “fear wire” tied into them. We don’t want a simple solution or to be “fixed”. We actually don’t even want to JUST speak, we want to be listened to. We want and need to be heard.
So, when a woman goes to her male coach with a problem because she’s experiencing fear and anxiety, the man naturally wants to fix it. And to fix it, you hand out advice. And that advice, by the way, is based on your male perspective and how YOU would fix this problem. (PLEASE let that sink in). Or I’ve seen coaches not know what to say, so they completely avoid it, or throw out a “just please try to stay positive!”
This can get tricky, I know. So, before I give you any advice on understanding this complex mind of a woman, let’s start simple. Stop Trying To Fix!!!
Here’s some tips:
1. LISTEN! Stop talking and just listen. Let them talk! I know you’re busy, I know you have a million things to do, but do you understand what a difference you can make by allowing your female athletes to speak this out? AND do you know what it means to us to know that you are taking time out of your schedule to hear us? It means you care. Which for a woman (that is driven by emotions), that is a game changer for us! *And to the coach that said to me, Well, what if we don’t want to get involved in their little dramas, how they look in their suits and their little boyfriend problems? Honestly, if that’s all you see women as, please stop coaching women. Immediately. Seriously, if you think that’s all we are is drama and boyfriend problems, then shame on you for not understanding how deep a woman’s soul is and how much more there is to us! *And to the coach that says, “I don’t want to become a counselor”. You don’t have to be a counselor!! Just take 5 minutes out of your day and listen! And I promise you’ll see the effects immediately)
2. RELATE! Let them know they aren’t some weakling or weirdo for being nervous or afraid. Relate to them. You’ve been afraid before too! “I GET IT” or “I UNDERSTAND” is music to a woman’s ears. It tells us that we are not alone in feeling this way. Again, in a world that works so hard to make us, as women feel like there is something wrong with us, we can feel relief that there isn’t one more thing wrong with us. We are actually normal. Game changer.
3. ASK QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIX! Let me let you in on a little secret. When we have a problem, we are capable of coming up with a solution of our own. But we need to talk it out first to get to that solution. Stop trying to give them YOUR solution, and let them figure it out themselves. Ask questions like, What do you think will help you? What do you think could help in this situation? Some might say “I don’t know”. Actually, in the beginning, most will say that. But believe me, when we are able to talk it out, we almost always figure it out ourselves. So, keep asking questions, and send them off thinking of their own solutions, instead of always giving them your solutions. (this not only helps them figure out something that will actually help them, but it also empowers them to take responsibility for their confidence.) Game changer.
Male coaches, I love you. I know so many amazing men that out of the goodness of your hearts, you want to fix. You are natural fixers, and I’m thankful for you. But we don’t always want or need to be fixed. Take the time to really listen and allow your female athletes, wives and daughters to know they are being heard. Relate to them and let them know they are not alone in this. And ask questions! Let us figure it out, and stop trying to “fix it” with advice from your male perspective.