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You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation Paperback – Feb 6 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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  • You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
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  • That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships
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  • I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You're All Adults
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (Feb. 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060959622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060959623
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 463 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #96,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Georgetown University linguistics professor Tannen here ponders gender-based differences that, she claims, define and distinguish male and female communication. Opening with the rationale that ignoring such differences is more dangerous than blissful, she asserts that for most women conversation is a way of connecting and negotiating. Thus, their parleys tend to center on expressions of and responses to feelings, or what the author labels "rapport-talk" (private conversation). Men, on the other hand, use conversation to achieve or maintain social status; they set out to impart knowledge (termed "report-talk," or public speaking). Calling on her research into the workings of dialogue, Tannen examines the functioning of argument and interruption, and convincingly supports her case for the existence of "genderlect," contending that the better we understand it, the better our chances of bridging the communications gap integral to the battle of the sexes.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[A] refreshing and readable account of the complexities of communication between men and women.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A chatty, earnest and endearing book that promises here–and–now rewards.” (Los Angeles Times)

“People are telling Tannen that the book is saving their marriages.” (Washington Post)

“A novelist’s ear for the way people speak with a rare power of original analysis.” (Oliver Sacks)

“Utterly fascinating. . . . A classic in the field.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The main thing that I give the book credit for is that it made me think about things that I do as a man and try to come up with my own explanations for my behavior, since hers clearly didn't resonate with me. I like to think of myself as "not a typical guy"; most of my women friends would agree. Yet I did recognize my own behavior in some of Tannen's examples. However, when she went on to explain why men do these things, it made me ponder my childhood relationships with other boys and, well, it wasn't anything like what she said. To be sure, there are boys/men who see the world in the binary one-up/one-down way that she describes. We've all met "super-alpha" men like this: the proverbial high-pressure salesman... the man who, upon entering a room where people are conversing, instantly creates a crowd. This isn't the way most boys/men are; some, certainly, but not most.
Also, the assumption that men are universally combative is incorrect. I think a more accurate picture of most boys growing up is that we find ourselves unwillingly placed into competition by bullies/super-alpha boys. I found myself picked on or challenged constantly in my childhood, when, all I really wanted was just to get along with everybody and not have people hassle me. I think most guys would nod their heads with me on this one. This, for me, is a much better explanation why men see people as challenging them where women do not, as men are hypersensitive to such challenges... and if you failed to rise to the challenge, you were humiliated by the bully's gang in front of your peers.
Boys too wanted to be accepted by their peers, and thrived on community. This explains the popularity of team sports among men.
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Format: Paperback
One of the things I've noticed about books like this is that the author comes up with a "matrix" of different, usually opposing, characteristics (in this case, human behaviour), then uses that matrix to explain *all* the differences in behaviour. Here Tannen expresses every described conflict between men and women *solely* in terms of gender differences. SOme are, some aren't.
Books like this sound very plausible when you are reading them, but then if you read another similar book, you notice that the second author uses an entirely different set of "parameters" for their own matrix (which is quite plausible when you're reading it as well). Trouble is, the two matrices that sound so compelling are totally incompatible and in fact contradict each other.
Moral of the story: it doesn't have to be accurate, it just has to be plausible enough to get a publishing deal.
Good case in point: Tannen mentions the trouble she had with a new computer purchase. The first time she took it back to the shop, the repairman was very unhelpful and spouted a bunch of gibberish at her. Later, she took the computer back and talked to one of the saleswomen, who solved her problem. Conclusion: men are unfriendly and one-uppers, while women are helpful and nurturing.
Problem is, I've known many women who act like the uncommunicative repairman. And I've seen many males who are very helpful and can easily help solve people's problems.
So this wasn't a male-female difference that Tannen experienced, it was simply that the first person she encountered (who happened to be male) was a very technically oriented type; he probably wasn't trying to be rude or unhelpful, he was just not too great at verbal interaction.
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Format: Paperback
Communication is the greatest aspect to a good relationship. Without communication, a relationship can lack are understanding, feelings, and where a person may stand in life...towards the other person. Nevertheless, where does communication falls when it comes to family. Take for instance your oldest son has a dream he wants to pursue. With this, he feels he is confident about himself, and sure that he is capable of achieving this goal. On the other hand, you know your child is incompetent of doing this because he lacks the talent. Now you have to choose between telling the truth... letting facts be known or keeping quiet... letting him engage on this dream. Let us think about this; is it all right to lye to a person to save their feelings knowing in the end things will fall apart? Alternatively, is it ok to tell the truth in the beginning to save them from embarrassment and humiliation in the end?
Many different scenarios can take place in a family were communication becomes a problem. Whether it is telling the truth to: save embarrassment, family gossiping, family secrets, control, etc. The list of the scenarios goes on and on. However, all confrontation comes about for two reasons. One reason is one person does not know what are the message given is, but went towards the metamessage, and explodes. I know your wondering what message and metamessage are. Well, "message is the meaning of the words and sentences spoken, what everyone with a dictionary and a grammar book could figure out. Metamessage is not said- at least not in so many words- but that we garner from every aspect of context." Take this into prime example and see whether you can figure out what is the message, and the metamessage are. "Do you really need another piece of cake? Donna asks George.
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