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Dr. Elizabeth Celi Male Behaviour Interview

Dr. Elizabeth Celi Male Behaviour Interview

The KFC Mateship Report has found that two thirds (69%) of Australian men aged 18-34 are bad at expressing their feelings, struggling to say simple words like -I'm sorry', -thank you' or -I miss you'. Mates are most likely to open up over good food (23%) or a few beers (58%), however 26% believe that apologies between mates aren't necessary at all. According to Aussie blokes, the terms of mateship apply when showing appreciation, with one in four saying buying a mate a meal is an acceptable way to say -thanks'.

Men's health expert and psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Celi, comments on the trend: 'Men typically find it difficult to express their feelings verbally, and 58% of Aussie men say it takes a few drinks to open up to their mates. However, one in four men also say shouting a meal is a great way to say thank you and a further 23% say they would rather buy a gift than formally apologise."

While men struggle with their feelings, they are clear about the behaviours that are considered to be unacceptable, making up the 5 Mateship Commandments:
1. Mates shall not fancy your wife or girlfriend (96%)
2. Mates shall not pick up your mum (92%)
3. Mates shall not throw up in your car (73%)
4. Mates shall not dog you because something better came along (72%)
5. Mates shall not post an embarrassing photo of you on social media (63%)

Aussie duo Fitzy and Wippa are well known for their mate to mate bloke-speak, commenting that there's a specific code when it comes to mates: 'Us blokes have a whole language and culture of our own, so when a mate starts getting carried away with a new girl, he's going to know that his mates are filthy (24% of men) so it's no surprise that the report reveals 43% of married men are fibbing!"

While sorry seems to be a dirty word, Aussie men have confessed they do have something to be sorry for:
Almost half (46%) of Aussies admit to fancying a mate's sister and a further 11% have fancied a mate's mum
43% of married men have dodged a night out with mates by lying that their wife had organised something else
8% have shamefully come clean to making a pass at a mate's other half

With the standard set for unacceptable mate behaviour and preferences for apologies and thank yous, the KFC Mateship Report has identified four -mate' categories:
1. The Best Man (34%)
a. Will rarely lie to a mate to avoid spending time with him
b. Has high expectations of mates and as a result generally has fewer mates

2. The Tear Jerker (29%)
a. Enjoys deep and meaningful conversations, face to face conversations and is most likely to say sorry with a hug
b. Majority of these guys would not feel awkward about telling a mate he missed him

3. The Prankster (28%)
a. Likes to play pranks like posting embarrassing photos of mates on social media and often express their feelings when drunk
b. Most likely to have fancied a mate's mum or sister and least likely to shy away from conflict

4. The Sly Dog (9%)
a. Prefer good times, large groups of friends and avoid confrontation at all costs
b. Can feel awkward when expressing their feelings and may avoid confrontation by buying a gift for a mate, rather than apologising

The KFC Mateship Report was commissioned by KFC in in support of the Say It With Chicken promotion. To see more about the campaign or enter KFC's Mate of The Month promotion visit

Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Celi

Psychologist and Author, Dr. Celi is also an award-winning speaker and media commentator on men's mental health and masculinity. Through regular TV and radio appearances and interviews, workshops, seminars and publications, Dr. Celi helps to debunk the negative myths and stereotypes about men – our fathers, husbands, uncles, grandfathers, sons and brothers.

Question: Why is it that three quarters of Australian men find it difficult to open up to their families?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: There are three broad reasons; men more often than not are likely to have been or not been overtly encouraged or have it reinforced that it's okay for a guy to express his feelings. Or, he may have coped some slack when he did open up and his learnt that it wasn't safe to do it again, so he hasn't. None of us like to be judged or insulted when we open up which is why guys are a little bit more tentative and vulnerable about it which is why they find it uncomfortable to open up to their families or others when it comes to verbal expression. Thirdly, in amongst that men may have not had the same level of practice at developing the skills for expressing themselves and managing the conversation that comes with it which is why it's not a surprise that 32% of the men in the KFC Mateship Report acknowledged that they were simply not good at expressing their feelings as it is an under practiced skill for guys compared to girls.

Question: How can families work to develop a relationship where the men don't find it difficult to open up?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: In families it's important to be able to encourage that it is okay to open up and it's okay to express what you're thinking and feeling is a human thing not just a -girl thing'. If guys receive comments such as -suck it up', -harden up' or -don't be a girl' they tend to learn that it's only something girls are allowed to do without being insulted and that can happen pretty easily towards boys where they may inadvertently be discouraged to opening up about their feelings. Encouraging him and letting him know that it's okay to express his feelings and that he can listen to you to get an understanding of your world will help him feel more trust and more comfortable and that it's an expression between one person to another and sharing something important.

Question: What about developing this in terms of an intimate relationship?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: In terms of intimate relationships it's important for a female partner never to say things like -stop being a girl', -suck it up' or -harden up' as it will put a deadbolt on his emotional gates. Girlfriends and partners can really help by not labelling him or judging him if he does open up or gets teary. It's important to be reassuring and in the same way a girl likes to be listened, guys also like that which is why it's important to really listen and repeat back what his said so he hears that you've actually heard him which makes an enormous difference for a man from his girlfriend or partner. When a man hears that his partner has really heard him and not judged him or labelled him in the process he starts to build trust and will slowly develop the willingness to open up to her and feel comfortable doing it.

Question: Why is it so commonly that men lie to a partner or girlfriend in order to spend time with mates?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: You will often find in those situations that the guy has copped a guilt trip somewhere along the way, from his partner, or a comment about the time his spending with his mates which can lead him on tender hooks and hesitant to express his plans at the risk of hurting feelings or having an argument with his partner, down the track and unfortunately it seems easier to lie about it and not hurt his partner and still be able to enjoy time with his mates.

Question: What tips do you have for women to encourage a more open relationship with their male partner that discourages lying?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: One of the things females need to do to help with in that case is having a realistic expectation that going out with his mates is simply about having friendships and has nothing to do with how much he loves her, he doesn't love her any less by going out with his mates, it's about balancing a lifestyle and that will help him feel comfortable that he can have a social life and also spend quality time with her when there are other opportunities.

Question: What else do women need to remember?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: Women don't often notice certain things they do and if they do they don't realise the impact it has on men such as socially commenting on her partners opening up which embarrasses him. A male opening up is for her eyes and ears only and he wants to trust her in sharing that not other people and if the woman lets other people know in front of him or behind his back, his going to get hesitate to express it again because he will realise she's not keeping it between them only. That's important for girls because they often chat to their girlfriends openly not thinking that it may make their male partner uncomfortable.

Another way she can really encourage him on the most positive and productive side is a day or two after he has opened up is to thank him for opening up and let him know how you appreciated an aspect of it. The woman could say 'when you told me about (insert issue) it really made me feel like you could trust me" or 'it really made me feel special and I appreciate that you did that." It's important that a woman expresses how it positively affected her to open up and create a good space. It's especially important to express this so the man doesn't feel as if his been insulted or judged as he probably has judged himself in the first place because of the masculine difficulty. Positive reinforcement will do wonders for guys; even if he doesn't say anything and his not likely too however he will take it on board.

The third thing for women to be aware of with men is that when you truly feel hurt (not judged) you find it easier to open up, it's a simple thing but men often feel that women hears but doesn't actually listen and goes on about her own points. When a man realises that he has been acknowledged and considered he feels as if down the track he can continue to share stuff and be a part of a reciprocal relationship.

Question: They apologise in their own ways, how do they go about this?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: Women often verbalise their appreciation or apologises and find it quite easy but men do their -verbal' via action and don't use words as much. Buying a gift is one way men say -thank you' or -I'm sorry' and buying a meal certainty is a way to say -thank you' or -I'm sorry' and in the KFC Mateship Report 23% of guys reported that they did that.

Another way men say -thank you' or apologise is when they realise they've made a mistake or something they did wasn't as affective as they wished – they'll simply alter their behaviour as they don't need to say the word to acknowledge it, they just change behaviour so that the mistake or unproductive behaviour is not seen again.

Question: Did any of the statistics in the KFC Mateship Report surprise you?

Dr. Elizabeth Celi: Not particularly, it really highlighted that men do things via action and behaviours and for men food talks. For a man, shouting a meal has the ingredients of a -thank you' or an -I'm sorry' already included in it and even more so if they're uncomfortable saying it verbally. The results of the KFC Mateship Report prove that the actions and behaviours shine through as verbally there can be some hesitancy as they have been discouraged somewhere along the line.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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