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What do men do best?

Date: 02 April 2010
Category: Uncategorized

For some time I have been troubled by a truth I feel is unquestionable. That women are better at listening than men. Having accepted this I have searched very hard for a parallel capability that men have that is the complement of listening. At first I felt it was model-making. A group of women discussing something often lack the simple capacity to ask the question “What’s your model?” Its the masculine way to extricate someone from an emotional hole. But over time I began to see that model-making in itself can’t rival the universal application that listening has, although it is very important. Science, for instance, if we leave aside the corrupt or egotistic elements, thrives most on model-making.

About two weeks ago I understood what us men have to rival and complement listening utterly. I’m driving my friends crazy right now because I won’t commit to a word for it yet, in case the experience and the understanding melts away. But some words come close. Hypnosis is good, but a tricky word because the dictionary is out of date and there is a whole spectrum of light and shade in the opinions about its integrity. Everyone likes Carl Rogers’ approach to client-centred therapy or even discussion, but perhaps influence is something we shy away from. I certainly have until recently. I even felt that listenng was the core quality in spiritual growth. Anyhow I can try to describe it poetically………….

Its the capacity to allow one’s energy or thoughts or feelings to work in an active way on someone, perhaps even oneself. It doesn’t HAVE to be sustained, but it does need to be firm. It can be as gentle as listening, and it can even be combined or alternated with listening. Hypnosis in the sense Joe Vitale uses it is this masculine quality.

In my music there is an influence from all the American minimalists. In this music there is a hypnotic element. Through repetition there is set up a transcendence of the sound, an awareness that is 4th dimensional (outside the looping in time) which parallels hypnosis, in the sense that good hypnosis seems to me (its not my field, yet) a way to communicate by reaching a person’s deeper levels. How good is the music? How deep does it reach, and how happy do you become? How many of your burdens have fallen away? Terry Riley’s music for instance is highly conscious of the subjective component of music (which arguably is where it all happens anyway). We are each music, and that approach has far more chance to engage with us.

We assign presence to our words and our sounds (and in composing music) by entering depth through the body/mind, transcending yet pervading ourselves. Will, command, gesture, hypnosis, broadcast, power ¬†…….. all these reverse listening, and although they have negative connotations, they foster a dynamism which makes masculine gender. Then men (and women) can be explosive in relationship as well as aquiescent.

Here I feel is a great key to understanding what it means to equal women in the height of their qualities of empathising; ¬†spiritual and healing capacities, and to complement them wonderfully. (Of course nowadays men and women overlap qualities more and more, but you know that). But I’m still not yet committing to a word for it. Watch this space. I might never.

6 responses to What do men do best?

  • Howard Roberts says:


    It seems that the feminine and the masculine have slightly different melodies, Their tones are similar but have variations.
    I think you can observe two types of listening: listening to the inner stream and the attention one shows to the others’ words, gestures, etc.
    I am not sure you can assert that women listen more keenly than men do.
    I feel it is an individual, genetic and situational process of natural communication that develop these two types of listening.
    Maybe your karmic accumulations have connected you to groups of women who have better listening skills.
    I have not totally hooked into this-as yet-on a grand scale or even everyday.

    Much success with your blog venture,


    • Hi Howard,
      greetings to you
      I don’t so much disagree with you as much as invite you to explore and share further, this blog post is an open sharing of a personal breakthrough, so as such has meaning beyond its component parts.
      I am really speaking from my experience, and it applies to my friends and family as well as clients and creative collaborators.
      Listening as I try to indicate is not the sole apex of maturity that many make it, we need the more active pole, I notice you didn’t comment on that pole. How do you see yours?
      Listening is not only keenness but also empathy.
      My assertion as you put it (and this is not so much a factual remark as my sharing a personal quest to better embrace my own experiences fully), is based on many years of mulling this particular theme.
      It’s true men listen more than they used to, but women are also expanding their capacities and their psychological maturity.
      thanks for responding, Lawrence

  • Lawrence,

    Interesting post. I haven’t figured out a word that describes what you write about either. Keep me posted when you do. :)


  • Lawrence,
    This is an interesting blog you have started! Listening has as much to do with “hearing” as anything, wouldn’t you say? Maybe men and women hear differently and it has nothing to do with their listening ability! Just as eye-witnesses who “see” the same event differ in what they actually “saw”, so it is with hearing.

    So happy to see you blogging!

  • Martha,
    I hope you won’t mind me asking, but “What do you understand as the distinction between hearing and listening. Is it a difference between a more active and a more passive receptivity, or are you using hearing to mean a kind of listening with interpretations superimposed.
    If the latter, then perhaps women interpret less than men? What do you feel?

  • Dear Lawrence, There is only one thing that men do better than women, which is so obvious it is not worth mentioning. That being said, why do you need to have a category for something men do better than women? I know many women that do not have anywhere near the capability that you as a musician have for listening. To train one’s ear to deeply hear what another person is saying is not gender based in the least. So, your unquestionable truth is indeed questionable. You have not met any of my out-law family members that lack basic curiosity as to what I am doing, especially as it interferes with their world view. And what emotional hole does a model extricate someone from? Isn’t science just trying on for size a postulate to see where it takes one, like wearing a purple shirt or a red hat? And hypnosis, if it originates by staring into someone’s eyes and maybe fluttering occurs, not a male trait at all especially if will or motive is also present. How any two people really impact and interact with each other thankfully has nothing to do with gender, but is a dance of particulars in time and space and grace and uniqueness.

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