You Just Dont Understand

This essay has a total of 1774 words and 7 pages.


You Just Dont Understand





You Just Don’t Understand, Men and Women in Conversation
By: Deborah Tannen


In the first chapter of her book, You Just Don’t Understand, Men and Women in
Conversation, Deborah Tannen quotes, “...studies have shown that married couples
that live together spend less than half an hour a week talking to each other...”.
(24) This book is a wonderful tool for couples to use for help in understanding each
other. The two things it stresses most is to listen, and to make yourself heard. This
book opened my eyes to the relationship I am in now, with a wonderful person, for about
four years. It made me realize that most of our little squabble-like fights could have
been avoided, if one or the other of us could sit down and shut up for a minute to
listen. Most of our fights had erupted from a misunderstanding or miscommunication on
either of our parts, and we’re only dating! I can only imagine the conflict two
partners would have in a marriage with children. This book outlined a lot of
couples’ problems, where they may have started, and how to circumvent them. After
starting to read this book, I realized to do a book report on the entire book would be
very difficult, so I chose situations that most related to me to report on.

Intimacy is a very important when dealing with people trying to minimize their differences
and attempting to reach a compromise. Independence is also a virtue you need to get any
kind of status in today's ranking world. In order to get any kind of rank you need to be
demanding, tell others what to do, and the act of taking orders is a sign of low rank in
society. Everyone needs both intimacy and independence, though women concentrate more on
the first and men more on the latter. This conflict of interest can cause different views
by men and women on the same situation.

Tannen used an example of a couple she called Linda and Josh. Josh got a call at work
from an old high school friend that would be in town that month, and Josh invited him to
stay at his house for the weekend, without first checking with Linda. Linda was upset
when she heard this news because she was away on business the week before and that Friday
was to be her first night home. Linda was less upset by that fact, and more upset that
Josh had made plans without checking with her first, she would never make plans with
anyone without checking with Josh, and didn’t understand why he couldn’t show
her the same courtesy.

This conflict affected Linda and Josh perhaps more so than another couple because it hit
their primary concerns. Linda was hurt because she felt Josh didn’t care as much
about her as she did for him. And Josh was hurt because he felt that Linda was trying to
control him, and limit his freedom. Many women feel that it is expected for them to
consult with their partners at every turn, while men automatically make more decisions
without asking their partners. Women may try to initiate a relaxed conversation by asking
“What do you think?” while men may feel that they are being forced to decide.
Tannen states that communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting
needs for intimacy and independence. To survive we need to act with concern for others
but also survive for ourselves.

There has always been a common stereotype that women talk too much, or rather more than
men do, and that they commonly interrupt men. There is a study on gender and language
that directly contradicts this stereotype and says, rather, that men interrupt women,
states Tannen. She also said she has never read a popular article on the subject, and
does not cite this finding. Although the idea is very satisfying because it challenges
what she says is a misleading stereotype that accuses women of talking too much. Both
statements, men interrupt women and women interrupt men, support the assumption that
interruption is a hostile act of conversational bullying, portraying the interrupter as
the aggressor and the interrupted as an innocent victim. The complaint “You
interrupted me” is one that is heard most often in relationships because it raises
issues of dominance and control. Women seem to favor conversations in which more than one
person speaks at a time, whereas men feel they need their ideas expressed without
interruption. It has also been observed that conservative men are intimidated by
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