Am I getting more touchy lately? Maybe, maybe not. I'm going to tell a story, then add some follow up; you be the judge.

A few years ago in a Ryze network devoted to coaching, a lady asked a question. Seems she'd only been coaching women and was starting to think about coaching men, and she wanted to know if there was anything she should know about differences in men and women that might help her along.

Every person who responded to her query questioned whether she should even be a coach, asked her why she worried about differences between men and women, asked her if she was actually feeling as though she weren't qualified to coach men or women, on and on and on. Every person, that is, except me.

I answered her question. I told her that statistics showed that men have this upward scale of business mobility from their early 20's until they get to around age 45, then it starts to level off from 45 to 58, and at that point it might start going down or totally flat-lining. Whereas, for women, they often show this flat-line from age 21 through 35, then start going upwards and, in many cases, will catch men once they reach the age of 59 and, in many cases, continue moving upwards. This seems to be because women start families younger, but once their kids reach a certain age they start branching out into the working world, and they haven't been jaded or beat down with some of the "realities" that men seem to feel they've reached at a certain age.

On that particular post, the only person who got a thank you was me, because I was the only person who answered her question. I didn't question her abilities, I didn't demean her intentionally or not, I just flat out answered a question, commented directly on what she had to say.

When people respond to me in ways that people responded to this person, I take great offense at it. I feel like they're not listening to me, instead trying to see beyond my words into my soul. However, I'm a very specific person; I put out exactly what I want back. If there are hidden meanings in what I have to say, unless I'm trying not to hurt your feelings, I say exactly what I want to say, using the words I want to use. I pretty much figure other people are doing the same thing, so I rarely open up a conversation by interpreting what someone has said. If they actually wanted something else answered instead, I probe until they actually come out with it.

In talking with a friend last night, she said what it comes down to is a lack of communication skills on the parts of others. Communication skills include listening, or in some cases reading skills. The ability to see the printed word or listen to the verbal communication for what it is versus what the listener perceives it to be.

She also said that most of the time, the person may be trying to help, but because they're not really listening to what's being said, it can come off as insulting without their knowing it. So, often she takes a step back, re-reads what she wrote, or thinks about what she said, tries to figure out why the other person said what they said, then responds to what they said instead of getting upset with what they responded to incorrectly.

That's a tough one to learn, but probably very important to learn. I have given presentations on communication skills where I tell people to make sure their meanings are clear when they talk to others. What I probably need to do at some point is incorporate a full listening aspect of communications into the program, rather than the cursory part I've had there in the past. We do tend to hear what we want to hear, and often we miss what's right in front of us.

And, in a way, that's how wars are started. And I don't want to be at war with anyone.