Analyzing Male and Female Conversation Styles in You Just Don’t Understand

4 April 2015
An analysis of male and female conversational styles based on Deborah Tannen’s `You Just Don’t Understand, which discusses how men and women act substantially differently in a number of ways – including conversational style.

This paper analyzes the book You Just Don’t Understand by the linguist Deborah Tannen. The sees it as a work of popular psychology written with the intention of analyzing and explaining the different conversational and linguistic styles of men and women. The author cites Tannen’s central thesis that some of the difficulties in communication between men and women in the workplace and at home are the result of the inherently different conversational styles of the sexes.
Some of Tannen’s theories tend to support common preconceived notions of gender norms. For instance, women are thought to emphasize collaboration and consensus when coming to a group decision. Men tend to use confrontation, even when they are in some form of basic agreement with the individual with whom they are speaking. This male, confrontational style, even when done in a friendly manner, can be alienating to women. Women, in contrast, often use conversation not as a means of communicating information but as a way of reaffirming interpersonal connections. This is why men often think that women are talking about nothing. The purpose of such traditionally female speech is not the topic of conversation that is at hand, rather it is to say, Yes we’re friends`, or Yes we’re together, or simply I am here for you. This is why women are often taken aback when, in trying to talk about their day, the man in their life tries to solve the problem their words have brought up, rather than simply listening to them and acknowledging and affirming Yes, you did have a problem at work today.”

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Analyzing Male and Female Conversation Styles in You Just Don't Understand. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved June 17, 2021, from
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