How To Tell Him What To Do (Without Coming Across As Annoying)

Stephen Hussey

Most guys have an innate aversion to being told what to do with their lives, especially by their girlfriends (I blame our mothers). When a guy hears “you have to come to my sister’s daughter’s christening in August” a part of him immediately thinks “Do I?”

When you enlist him to help you clean up for the next hour and tell him it’s because he’s been lazy all day, his brain reverts to that of a stroppy child being reprimanded – it’s the kind of phrase that makes him want to run away to live by himself in a private man cave in the mountains.

It sounds petty, but although in both situations he probably is happy to come along with you, he also feels like he isn’t being appreciated for doing the right thing.

That sounds childish even as I write it. You might wonder: “if it’s the right thing, why doesn’t he just do it anyway and suck it up”?

I’ve found in my relationships that I generally feel dissatisfied when I feel under-loved and under-appreciated.

It’s not that I need a clapping seal to dance and cheer at my rising out of bed in the morning, but those little generous compliments and moments of praise are enough to make me want to be my best self.

I remember one girlfriend whom whenever I made her a cup of tea and brought it to her in bed, she’d say: “Oh my God, you are my dream man”.

One time I washed her dirty dishes whilst wearing a pair of Marigolds and she wrapped her arms around me and saying “Can you take your shirt off when you do that so I can watch you topless? It’s so sexy for some reason”.

Silly? Yes.

But that didn’t stop me from volunteering myself to do a hell of a lot of washing up that year.

Rarely have I found in life does much bad come from over-praising the people we love when they get things right.

I’ve also noticed how tiny language tweaks help you say what you really mean, instead of coming across as demanding and unreasonable.

For example, back to our earlier examples, what if instead of saying: “You have to be at my sister’s daughter’s christening this week” you might say, “Are you still coming on Friday? My family would really appreciate it if you’d be there”.

Or if someone is moaning about an upcoming event, you can often turn it around by saying, “Everyone is so happy you’re coming”. Now suddenly they have a positive incentive to come and be a part of something, rather than a negative feeling of being nagged into an obligation.

Where do you find positive reinforcement works best? Can you overdo it? Let me know in the comments below.

If you want copy & paste scripts that you can use in any situation with men, watch this video: “How to Talk to Men”


Photo (Alamy)

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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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14 Replies to “How To Tell Him What To Do (Without Coming Across As Annoying)”

  • I have found that positive reinforcement works wonders and I have been trying to, in general, make people feel good about themselves even if i don’t overtly want something. However, there has been a case where perhaps I might have overdone it and it had somewhat of a negative effect. I think it has the effect of making some people feel like you’ve put them on a pedestal and in turn they view you as a lesser valued person. I’m not sure it works with everyone, majority-yes, but i had one person, i think perhaps because they did not see themselves as this great person, in me seeing them as more than they were, they reacted negatively to it and me. That may be something interesting for you to think about Steve. Mathew had an Instagram post about how uniquely you see someone (cant remember exact post), what are the negatives to seeing and treating people better than they see themselves? Just a thought, and yes its a bit off topic, so ill end here :) Good article though.

  • Whenever my boyfriend does something for me, ESPECIALLY if it’s something I’ve asked him to do, I always thank him, give him a big kiss, and say “My hero!” It’s silly, especially for small things like opening a jar of pickles, but it works. He gets a goofy smile on his face afterward b/c he knows it’s silly, but he feels appreciated for doing something nice :)

    If it was an especially nice/big thing he did for me (ex. drove over to bring me lunch at work when I had none), I’ll send him a text shortly after he leaves. Something to the effect of “Thanks again for bringing me lunch–you saved my stomach! The food was yummy, but not as yummy as you ;) I’ll see you later, stud xoxo”

  • Dear Matthew and Brother : I just read your article about how to introduce men or how to invite men to either socialize in family events or help you with chores and stuff. It come to my mind what happend when ypu already try already all your techniques and still not working, we women always get blame and many fingers point us when we get tired to play the nice therapist because real life is something also , eventually after we all run our duties during the day exausting mind and body play and important roll and this does not help ., why you always ask womens to play nice with men if men learn how to treat a women it may be not necessary for us to play tricks to play anybody minds it order to have them executed . You made me think the women’s need to look for Mens with a remote control and Manual attached to properly play all their futures and benefits if we learn of course to play the bottoms, i believe Mens with remote control will work just fine until we runs off battery.

  • There’s someone in my life who’s particularly kind to me, when I try to praise him for things, he sometimes deflects it. So I indirectly say things for instance praise him to another person while he’s there – so he isn’t required to comment. Or I keep it simple like a heartfelt, Thank you Ben.

    But yeah, I notice that when I slip in comments of praise or admiration or encouragement or gratitude in general to anyone it is a great thing. And you can tell that it was really unexpected, appreciated, and needed. I love that you used the word generous. I want to be like that. SUPER topic.

  • I want so badly to meet these women that the Hussey men talk about that they’ve dated. And would love to know why they would break up with them. Great article as always Stephen!

  • Your girlfriend was brilliant–I’ll have to incorporate some of those lines :)

    Also, loved this for everyone in our close network: “Rarely have I found in life does much bad come from over-praising the people we love when they get things right.”

  • My favourite part of your blog:

    One time I washed her dirty dishes whilst wearing a pair of Marigolds and she wrapped her arms around me and saying “Can you take your shirt off when you do that so I can watch you topless? It’s so sexy for some reason”. Silly? Yes. – See more at:

    Except she wasn’t being silly. I’d love to watch you washing the dishes topless also.

    1. Lol! Mary!! “Marigolds” took me a minute because we say rubber gloves or kitchen gloves. I was trying to figure out … Is it shoes? Panties? Then I thought of the color yellow and that helped.

      That would be very nice tho. His gf was lucky and I bet her dishes were super clean :)

  • Hanging out and being nice to his friends will show him that you’re a cool person who can get along with anyone and it will also let him see that you’re showing more of an interest in him. If you didn’t care about him, then you wouldn’t care about his friends.

  • Yeah, I tried positive reinforcement and it worked. Like he repeating the exact same thing, exactly.

    I think it was because he wanted me to say in person what I said over IM but no way in hell am I going to compliment him in that way within earshot of my coworkers.

    Career first.

  • “But that didn’t stop me from volunteering myself to do a hell of a lot of washing up that year.” Lol. Great line.

    I can say, I recently said “it’s so sexy when you cover your mouth when you cough. I love that,” and a wink. We laughed cause it was facetious but it worked.

    I get hurt too quickly when he might suggest an alternative plan. I might say something sounding disappointed or frustrated. Today, tho, he changed the plan of him coming over tonight, to us going to a celebratory dinner with his parents as he just got his PGA membership. I didn’t whine about him not wanting to come over – I just said sure. We will just make it extra special next time he comes to my house so he wants to come all the time and I won’t feel insecure. Then I’ll be all appreciative to him for coming and spoil him. Great idea – needed this. It’s hard to see past what I want sometimes.

  • I guess it’s all about “gentle persuasion” with a sexy twist! I love that Stephen….& I love that Brits call “rubber gloves”, Marigolds…Such a sweet term… ;) <3 Great advice as usual…You & Matthew never cease to amaze me with all this great advice (from a male perspective) It is very different thinking from a female perspective, that's for sure… ;) I am learning something new all the time from these blogs…

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