Communication Breakdown

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Communication Breakdown
Deborah Tannen in her essay “Sex Lies and Conversation” points out the problems in communication between genders. She focuses on conversational styles and on how a person’s expectations of one’s reaction may cause misunderstanding. She emphasizes the importance of something she calls cross cultural communication. Tannen believes that in order to communicate properly with the opposite sex we must learn their culture and adapt to conversation with them. First, Tannen describes the differences in how children socialize. Most of what we know about communication we learned when we were children. When women are little girls, they have best friends, ones we can share our secrets with. When we get a little older and have a relationship with the opposite sex we expect the same kind of communication. Tannen believes the importance is not necessarily the topic but the feeling that you get from conversation and points out ,“What is important is not the individual subjects that are disclosed but the sense of closeness, of a life shared, that emerges when people tell their thoughts, feelings and impressions” (51). We must learn to socialize with the opposite sex the same way we do with the same sex. If we could learn to connect and have the “sense of closeness” with the opposite sex we might be able to communicate successfully. Tannen’s research has shown that men socialize differently as boys and “Since they don’t assume talk is the cement that binds the relationship, men don’t know what kind of talk women want, and they don’t miss it when it isn’t there”(51). Tannen points out that boys learn to communicate in larger groups, often struggling not to be in the subaltern position of the conversation. Men do not like to listen; they like to feel like they are the superior person in the conversation. (51) Communication starts in childhood and what we have learned to expect from conversations. Next, Tannen observes how men and women listen to each...
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