1. Start your sentence with “Look.” Make sure I can really hear the period at the end. It makes the muscles in my neck clench, so I can hold my head up and make meaningful eye contact with you, and eye contact creates trust and intimacy.
2. “Listen” or “Now you listen” are also good openers. I mean, duh…you’re telling me to listen! Of course I’m going to listen! Everyone needs to be heard, and I want to meet your needs. I feel like that’s something we can do for each other, you know? You tell me what you need from me (“now you listen”) and I can listen. This is how we learn to work together.
3. “You’ve got to be f-cking kidding me.” Ha ha, I totally wasn’t. I was serious, which is why I presented my argument using a somber font, bullet points, and no emoticons or exclamation points. But I appreciate how you always look for the humor in our interactions. Being able to laugh together is really important to me.
4. If I try to leave before you’re done talking, grasp my upper arm. This will get my attention so I don’t inadvertently storm out of the room too early. Plus, it’s kind of a fatherly gesture, and therefore comforting. Most women agree that it makes us feel loved to be paternally restrained.
5. Take a deep, slow, loud breath before you reply to me. Some people think this sounds like a sigh, which is totally rude, but I know you, you cutie — you are practicing your yoga breathing. Namaste! Shalom! Ayurveda! I support your quest for health and inner peace, fellow traveler. It warms my heart that we have so much in common. My yoga teacher never included the “rolling eyes” part of deep breathing though — does that help?
6. Help a girl out. If you think I’m not saying exactly what you might say, or not saying it quickly enough, jump in! Don’t leave me out there floundering, finishing my own sentences and whatever, if you can do it better. This is a partnership, right? I was probably tired of making my own points with my own mouth anyway. I ain’t heavy, I’m your sister.
7. Smile indulgently at me when I start to tell a story. And when I ask what’s so funny, just shake your head and say “No, no, I know you love this story.” I love that you know me so well, and that you’ve been listening to what I have to say. Because this relationship is so strong and open, I feel like I can tell you that sometimes your loving, indulgent smile looks kind of… grimace-y? Condescending? To other people, I mean; I know what’s in your beautiful heart.
8. Don’t stand on formality. I know how busy you are, and how tired. You can skip the please and thank yous; I can just hear them in my head so you don’t have to bother. It will be easier for both of us, and also save bandwidth and reduce noise pollution. Win-win-win.
9. Tsk my face. You don’t have to turn your back to me when you click your tongue/ suck your teeth in response to something I say. I don’t mind if you gleek a little bit; I find all of your funny strangling noises and emissions charming as all hell.
10. Timing. If you’re going to send me an email that a) dumps me, or b) enumerates my many shortcomings in list format, please do it first thing in the morning. It helps me start my day in a state of alertness, so that I can more readily be there for you, amigo.