Section 1: Theory
You Just Don’t Understand Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen is basically an explanation on how women and men converse. Tannens main goal is to give advice to the different genders in order for them to avoid as much conflict as possible. Tannen’s main ideas are to explain how differently women and men react to each other’s way of being. It’s like they’re in their own little world while living in the same big world. Men tend to try to dominate situations and tend to always want to be at the top. Women do not tend to want to get into conflict but tend to show understanding. These big differences bring them into conflict. A Tannen explains, “What he wanted conflicted with what she wanted”. (40) Women and men are constantly clashing in opinions.
Men are usually trying to be above each other which is something Tannen calls “one-up”. It is like men are always in competition with people around them. For example, in chapter 2, Tannen explains why men don’t ask for directions. She explains, “The fact that you have the information, and the person you are speaking to doesn’t, sends a metamessage of superiority. If reasons are inherently hierarchal, then the one who has more information is framed as higher up on the ladder, by virtue of being more knowledgeable and competent.” This shows how men are always trying to be at the top of every conversation. They want to know everything, in order to be at the top of everyone.
Women have a completely different view point then men. They aim to be accepted by others, they try to avoid conflict, and they tend to show that they understand what the other person is trying to say. For example, in chapter 6, Tannen begins to explain how in a comic, the two boys are fighting while a girl named Debbie is trying to be the peacemaker. She claims that she is looking for someone but the boys say that the person isn’t there. Even though she knows the person is there, she acts like...