I was going to write something about the other job interviews I had but had a long fascinating coversation which extended from msn to lunch with people across the globe so I have to post the findings of that. Which are:

1) Men are inherently bossy. They want to take a decision and fast. They may want to ask you want to think but they want you to express your opinion swiftly and pithily and a yes or no to be arrived at in say – five minutes. Which brings me to point 2.

2) Men don’t like long discussions. Since their attention span resembles that of a hamster if not a goldfish (which apparently forget everything each round of the bowl they do so that every time they swim round – its a new experience. So basically we’re the only ones that shudder thinking about the poor things swimming around in circles… but I digress) they cannot really listen to you go on for more than five minutes at the most.

So if you have something to say keep it short. I have taken to actually timing my conversations with V and if something is going to take longer than five minutes I generally get on msn and talk to someone else.

Of course, there are those unfortunate things that only the two of you can decide. Even then pre-discussion with others so that ranting and venting time is exhausted and you’re thought are in order helps. Then initiate said discussion and keep it snappy or you’ve lost before you even got warmed up.

3) This becomes tricky when you’re upset and it’s not a standard “what stock should we buy today” kind of discussion (though in my experience even those can get messy – which says something about women if we can get upset about something as prosaic as a mutual fund).

So basically when a woman is upset, she starts out trying to be calm and quickly degenerates into emotion and sometimes tears in the face of the man’s inevitable obstinance (because men can never really say they are sorry even when they actually are. They have been famously known to later claim “But I apologized” which they probably did in their own sweet “erm um maybe I was erm.. wr….um” way). When in reality women should actually start with emotion to grab the attention of the man – who has been well-trained to respect the wrath of the old-fashioned female tantrum by his mom and sisters – and then quickly reign it in and have a very controlled discussion which is the only kind men can deal with. This discussion could go along a little longer than five minutes – gasp maybe ten – but make sure to root out anything unnecessary.

Stopping in the middle of a sentence when you started also works – if you realize halfway through that it’s unnecessary – because guys then get really curious about what you were going to say and it becomes a dog and a bone thing with the guy going in a hilariously phony voice “tellme, comeon” and you going “no no it’s ok” while smirking in your head. More on that later.

4) Steel yourself to play hardball. When faced with the inevitable male stubborness, convincedness of their own rightness forever and always, and innate selfishness (yes boys are selfish because there mums always gave them the best piece of chicken – and woe betide if your boy is an only child), do as done unto you. Be stubborn and selfish yourself while retaining your innate female objectivity and ability for self-insight by acknowledging that you are only behaving like this because that’s exactly how he’s behaving.

In my case, the sticking point is always holidays that involves splitting leave time between both our families. My strategy is to assuage my conscience beforehand that what I want is fair and then go into the discussion with something a little unfair and then compromise a little. Or don’t. Because you make up for that little extra in many other ways.

This I’ve learnt from The Apprentice and dealing with investment bankers. You don’t have to be right – you have to pretend you think you are and stick with it at whatever cost. Because you’re a woman, you’ll probably give in a little bit. But at least you’ll end up with a halfway good deal. If you left it to the guy to make the decision it would generally be one that took all of his needs into account and some of yours.

5) Exit strategies: I have a number of lines that work well –
a) I don’t want to talk about this/ I can’t have this discussion right now (Classic boy talk): A favourite among guys and provokes immensely satisfying disconcertion (is that a word?) when weilded against them. Can only be used when you’ve perfected the art of venting to others beforehand so that you don’t recommence whining.

b) Ok do what you want (Mum’s favourite): This has to be done with finesse so that the guy knows that you’re really really pissed off and while his instinctive reaction is joy that he got his way, his second thought is confusion and wariness. You just roll your eyes and detach. I mean maybe he will go and buy the wrong stock but at least you have peace of mind – and you can smirk if it backfires.

c) Ok you do it your way and I’ll do it mine (The Bride’s twist): Marriage has permanently divested me of any belief in sharing, support and the value of togetherness. It’s nice to have someone to come home to, to go to movies to, to in the last resort get you a cup of water when you have a fever (don’t count on being pampered because most guys pretend they’re not sick when they are and don’t understand why you can’t be a man and stop whining), to have sex with without fear of disease (hopefully) and pregnancy (well at the worst you could have the child) but the idea of a partner through thick and thin, a listening ear, emotional support et al is overstated. Does not happen. (well listening ear will happen if restricted to five minute convos). Or maybe happens after five years. I don’t have time for the emotional upheaval so I’m taking the short route and saying “I can’t change you so I’ll change me and stop depending on you”. Whether this spells disaster for my marriage remains to be seen. So far so good.

But back to strategy. The I’ll do it my way, you do it yours, generally results in guys getting the point. In the blink of an eye, they see that if that happens their goals are not going to be achieved but there’s no way to stop you apart from stopping to be a moron.

If it’s something minor then they might just do it their way. Which is ok because they would have anyway and you get to do what you want.

To be continued whenever

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