One of our favorite YouTube videos is. “It’s Not About the Nail.” We think it’s hilarious. We show it at our seminars.
A couple is sitting on a couch and a woman is complaining of headaches and other ailments. The camera pans to reveal she has a nail sticking out of her forehead. The man points out that she has a nail in her head and if they got it out, the headache would likely go away. She tells him in no uncertain terms, “It’s not about the nail!” He eventually listens to her frustrations despite his conviction that all would be well if the nail came out.
Guys think it’s hilarious. Bob thinks it’s hilarious. What he doesn’t understand is why women – including me – also laugh at it. Until today, I knew it was funny to me, but I couldn’t articulate why.
This morning I audited a class for mediators – professionals who try to bring resolution to parties in conflict. Acclaimed mediator Doug Noll told the group, you cannot solve an emotional problem with logic.
Bing! That was it. The woman in the video had an emotional need. She wanted her husband or boyfriend to hear her heart. She wanted him to love her by listening deeply and with empathy. He was responding with logic. And however well-intentioned he was – however correct he was – she was unable to hear and receive his advice.
What are the emotional needs your spouse is trying to share that you have logically been trying to fix? This week, stop fixing and start deeply listening.