How to Build Relationships with Men: Side by Side

October 9, 2006 2:23 pm Published by

Recently, I gave the keynote address for a group of 40-50 family-business owners. The overall topic was “Raising Healthy Children in a Financially Successful Family”. One of my main points was that parents have to invest intentional time with their children – otherwise, schedules get busy, the time goes by, and all of a sudden, your children are grown (one of the points of the recent movie, Click ).

As a result, the issue of building relationships with your son(s) came up. Actually, the point was how to build relationships with guys.

Guys – boys, teenagers, young men, and men all of ages – in our culture, tend to build relationships through “side by side” activities. Look at how businessmen build friendships. They play golf together. (In fact, in the September 30, 2006 Wall Street Journal there was a fascinating article entitled: “Kumbaya Golf: When the Guys Go all Fuzzy”(subscription link). Men go on hunting and fishing trips together. They attend football games, basketball games, hockey games and baseball games. Sometimes in pairs, sometimes in groups. Although it is not totally non-existent, most men don’t go out for a cup of coffee (or tea!) and sit across from one another and “just chat”.

So my point to parents was – if you want to build a relationship with your son, do something with him. And then talk while you are engaged in the activity together. When my sons were around (they are either out on their own or in college), we would shoot hoops, toss the football, go to games together, go hunting and fishing. Even running errands together can be good “talk time”.

For some reason, guys are willing (able?) to talk more while they are mildly distracted with something else. You can get to know a lot about a guy (whether he is your son, a business colleague, a client, or your husband) by talking while at an event together.

This may seem obvious to men, since this is the way we have been most of our lives. But sometimes it is good to state the obvious (or, as we were taught in psychology – “make the covert, overt”). Then we can use the information to our benefit.

I can tell you for certain this principle is news to most women. In fact, when discussing this issue in groups, there is often a look of surprise, nods of “aha!”, and sometimes confusion by the women. At the same time, the men are smiling, nodding vigorously, laughing, and elbowing their wives.


Published by
October 9, 2006 2:23 pm

1 Comment

Leave a Reply