Excerpt: 'Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man'

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a ManABC News

With a decades-long career in television, including his own show, Steve Harvey has conquered the media world. But during his rocket-like shot to the top, Harvey had his share of relationships and gained a lot of experience with women.

Now he's turning this experience into sage advice for the fairer sex. Like the name of his book says, a woman could learn a lot if she would "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man."

Check out an excerpt of the book below, then head to the "GMA" Library for other great reads.

VIDEO: Straight Talk With Steve HarveyPlay

'We Need to Talk' and Other Words That Make Men Run for Cover

"We need to talk."

For a man, few words are as menacing as those four -- especially when a woman is the one saying them and he's on the receiving end. Those four words can mean only two things to men: either we did something wrong or, worse, you really literally just want to talk.

Now, we understand that we're not the essence of perfection and there are going to be times when you're mad at us and need to let us know it; we get that, though we don't necessarily want to have to concentrate on an hourlong angry lecture about how we screwed up. But even more? No man wants to sit around gabbing with you like we're one of your girlfriends. Ever. It's just not in our DNA to lounge around, sip coffee, and dab at our eyes with tissue as if we're in an AA meeting or on some psychologist's couch trying to get things off our chest. When men are talking, and especially when they're listening, it's with purpose.

We don't vent.

We just want to fix whatever situation is upsetting the balance.

We understand that this frustrates you time and time again, because sometimes you want to talk to share and get someone else's take on a situation—you know, put a listening ear on it. But seriously? That's what your girlfriends are for. You lay out your problem and she'll commiserate with you—give you all kinds of "yeah, girls" and "I know that's right," and nod and agree and tell you stories about how the same thing happened to her. She'll even go on to give you concrete examples of every other time something like this has happened to other women throughout the history of the world, and, hours later, you all will get up from the couch, having solved nothing but feeling so much better.

Consider Exhibit A:

You: "I walked into work today and before I could get to my desk, I saw Tanya walking over to the coffee machine and wouldn't you know that heiffa had on the same shirt as me?"

Your girlfriend: "You better stop it. Which one?"

You: "The blue one—you know, the one with the orange flower print? I got it from that store across town? On sale?"

Your girlfriend: "You mean the one you found on the $29.99 rack in the back? The same day I found those shoes at the store just down the street?"

You: "That's the one! I wore that shirt to work a few weeks ago and she complimented me on it and next thing I know, she ran to the store and bought my shirt and is wearing it to work! Can you believe it? Do you know how that made me feel?"

Your girlfriend: "Aw, hell to the nah. Are you serious? That's horrible. She's got some nerve..."

For sure, this conversation could go on for hours, morphing into all kinds of side conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand: that some woman was wearing the same blouse as you on the same day in the same office.

With a man, exactly ten seconds into the conversation, he'd arrive at The Fix.

I present to you, Exhibit B:

You: "I walked into work today and before I could get to my desk, I saw Tanya walking over to the coffee machine and wouldn't you know that heiffa had on the same shirt as me?"

Your man: "Really? Don't wear it anymore."

End of conversation. It's that simple for us. In this particular instance, and many more examples such as this, we can't get more worked up than that. How you felt at work while you had to sit there with this other woman on the other side of the room with the same blouse on is irrelevant to us.

As far as we're concerned, the problem has already been fixed—you came home. You're not looking at the woman in the identical blouse anymore. And if you don't wear that particular blouse to the office again, you won't have to deal with that particular problem again. In our mind, problem solved—no more talking.

All of this is to say that we men aren't in the talking business; we're in the fix-it business. From the moment we come out of the womb, we're taught to protect, profess, and provide. Communicating, nurturing, listening to problems, and trying to understand them without any obligation to fix them is simply not what boys are raised to do.

We don't let them cry, we don't ask them how they feel about anything, we don't encourage them to express themselves in any meaningful way beyond showing how "manly" they are. Let a little boy fall off his bike and scrape his knee—see how fast everyone tells him to get up and shake it off and stop all that doggone crying. "Be a man," we demand. There's no discussion about how he felt when he hit the ground—nobody's asking him to talk about whether he's too scared to get back on the bike and try again. Our automatic response is to tell him to get over it, get back on the bike, and figure out how to ride it so he doesn't fall again.

Now that he's grown and in a relationship, you expect that same boy who was told to keep quiet and keep it moving to be a man who can sit and listen and communicate and nurture? I'm telling you now: your expectations are off.

Women have different moods, and ideas in their head, and you all expect us to fall in line, and if we don't, it's a problem—you're telling your girlfriends, "He won't talk to me," and "I can't get him to open up." But opening up is not what we do. Profess, provide, and protect—all our lives, that's what we men have been taught and encouraged to do. This, we've been told, is how a man shows his love. And The Fix falls firmly into the "provide" category.

For sure, provision isn't just about money; for us, providing also is about righting what's wrong, and figuring out what's going to keep everybody happy. Because any man with sense knows that when mama's happy, we're all going to be happy. And when you're happy, there is a great return for us. So we provide and fix.

I'm telling you right now: if you go to your man with a situation that's fixable and he doesn't try to fix it, he is not your man—he is not in love with you.

Go ahead, I dare you to try it for yourself. When your man comes over, tell him, "You know, I just can't stand this kitchen this way. The color just throws me all off, the cabinets are all wrong, they don't go with the stove and I can't get my mind right in here when I'm trying to cook." If he's all the way in it with you, he will say, without hesitation, "What color you want this kitchen to be, baby?" Tell him "pink," and see if by next Saturday the whole kitchen isn't painted pink, cabinets and all.

He will see your distress, understand that if you don't like the cabinets and the walls and the way the stove functions, you're going to walk into that kitchen with your mouth poked out—phoning in the home-cooked meals because you just can't hook up the steaks and baked potatoes like you want to in a kitchen you can't stand. And we definitely don't want that, so to the hardware store we will go. Even if we don't have money for a complete remodel, we'll go and find you some hardware for the cabinets, maybe some new handles, and some sandpaper—lots of sandpaper—to get that color you can't stand off your cabinets, so that we can refinish them exactly the way you want them to be finished.

A man who really loves you can't wait to do this for you, because in the back of his mind, he can envision you with a smile on your face, setting his place at the head of the table, and serving up a fine meal in the new kitchen he fixed just for you. (Oh, make no mistake about it: we want to see you happy, but it's also all about the return, ladies. Please understand and respect the return.)

Of course, we operate under the assumption that The Fix isn't always going to be on point. We stay off balance because even though we're responding in a way that we believe is logical, our women will inevitably respond emotionally—which always throws a monkey wrench right into the middle of what we're trying to accomplish.

Most of the time, it feels to us that your response is determined not wholly by what is rational, but mostly by how you're feeling that particular day, at that particular moment.

A perfect example: your man can lick you on the same breast with the same amount of moisture in the same exact position that had you hollering and screaming last night, and this evening, you will look at him and say, with conviction, "What are you doing? I don't want that." And now he's all confused because, hey, if you lick him on that spot and he liked it yesterday, he's going to like it today and tomorrow and the day after that, too.

But you, not so much.

What you like and how you like it seemingly shifts from day to day, sometimes even moment to moment. And that is not logical to us—we can't figure it out, ever. If we get it right, great. But sometimes, we're just going to get it wrong. A lot of times, the more inexperienced of us men are going to completely screw it up.

For example, consider a woman who walks into the room in a visible huff; a guy who's young and not too smart in this relationship business may ask his lady what's wrong, and she may say, "nothing." That fool will be the one to say, "Okay, cool."

He will also be the one who gets laid out with the, "Dammit—you saw me tripping and you're just going to walk off without seeing about me?" Yup, that guy is going to have a lot of fixing to do.

But the more experienced man—the one who can read his lady's moods and tell when something is wrong—is going to ask her what's up, and no matter how many times she says, "nothing," he's going to ask again and again until she starts coming clean and opens up, though, in his heart of hearts, he will be hoping to God there's really nothing wrong, and if there is something wrong, he will be able to just fix it because he doesn't want to see her pout.

Even when he thinks she is done talking, he'll push her until the issue is resolved because he can't leave it at, "Wow, sorry that happened." He will immediately launch into The Fix.

This is not to say you'll never have a conversation with your man that lasts longer than two minutes. We understand that sometimes we're going to have to give a little more in terms of communicating with you—that every now and then we're going to have to spill our guts and reveal what's going on in our heads. We also know that you may just want to lie in our arms and cuddle and talk it out with absolutely no resolution.

We are capable of doing this, too. It's not easy. But it can be done. We know that sitting and listening and even participating in a long conversation about your feelings is necessary and inevitable. But don't be surprised if those conversations are few and far between.

Detailed conversation is what you have with your girlfriends. Men just want to hear the problem and then fix it. It's about maintaining this balance—the two of you understanding exactly what each other requires to be innately happy, and then trying to provide at least some of that so that both mates feel like they're in this relationship with the other. For men, that means that every once in a while, they may have to sit and be still and just listen. For women, it would go a long way if they respected the encryption of manhood—that we're too focused on who we are, what we do, and how much we make to spend a whole lot of time sitting around pondering things that can't be fixed.

Of course, it would go a long way if women stopped opening the conversation with "we need to talk." The moment you say that, our defenses go up, the repair tools come out, the sweat starts rolling, and we're sprinting through the events of the past weeks, trying to figure out what we did wrong, when we did it, and how we're going to fix it so that we're not in trouble anymore.

In fact, I think it's a good idea that, if you just want to vent, you start the conversation with something simple, like, "Honey, look, nothing is really wrong—I just want to tell somebody something." That's a great opening line; it allows us to relax, take our foot down from the witness stand, put away our "fix it" tools, and actually sit and listen to what you have to say.