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You Just Don't Understand
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You Just Don't Understand

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,532 ratings  ·  217 reviews

Women and men live in different worlds...made of different words.

Spending nearly four years on the New York Times bestseller list, including eight months at number one, You Just Don't Understand is a true cultural and intellectual phenomenon. This is the book that brought gender differences in ways of speaking to the forefront of public awareness. With a rare combination

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Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1990)
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Alan
Deborah Tannen made her reputation with this examination of the differences in the ways men and women communicate. As a novelist, I found it quite useful in terms of understanding how women think and speak. As a reader, I found it amusing and entertaining.
As a critic, I do find it a little simplistic. The main thesis is that women value community, empathy and friendship within a group while men are always struggling to find their place in a hierarchy and if possible raise it. According to Tanne
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Rachel Schirra
If I was feeling really snarky I would put this on the "fiction" shelf.

This is marketed as a self-help book, and the writing itself is quite pleasant and accessible, but it makes a lot of sweeping statements about language and gender relations without backing them up with research. This is understandable -- who wants to dig through a bunch of numbers in a self-help book? -- but as far as I'm aware the research to back up her claims just doesn't exist. It's a lot like Men are From Mars, Women are
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Susan
So far this is fascinating and enlightening. The only thing I'm unsure about is whether the author will provide good suggestions for how to bridge the gap between typical masculine and typical feminine styles of communication. But I love how she is careful to always point out how BOTH have to compromise some but also BOTH have inherent value--one is not better than the other, one should not conform more to the other.
Lucia Pinizotti
Forget Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus.... go right to the scholarly work that started it all. If you want to better understand what can, and often does, go wrong between men and women in conversation this is a must read.
Nancy
I have owned this book for a number of years; I may have tried it previously, but put it down without completing it. I picked it up about a week ago. While I found some of it relevant and interesting, it is hard for me to buy into such gender generalizations. And although Tannen used a lot of anecdotes and literary references, the book still read like a textbook to me. On the very last page of the book (aside from the voluminous Notes), Tannen says that "Understanding style differences for what ...more
Rand
Oct 08, 2007 Rand rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: guys
her generalizations are too broad and she oversimplifies when she seeks to characterize male and female communication styles, but she struck a chord with me. tannen, a sociolinguist, includes lots of dialogues between men and women, with focus on where they come to blows, verbal blows. based on the notion that women seek social connections and men are looking for stature or position with respect to their interlocutors. whatever its shortcomings, i had to smile for all the times her examples rang ...more
Arminzerella
Men and women have different ways of speaking. Men often try to one-up one another in conversation and take on a dominant role. This can be seen in them apparently lecturing in a teacher style (to show how much they know), something Tannen refers to as "report" type talking. Their styles of speaking show dominance, and independence. Women, on the other hand tend to try and build community and rapport. So while men's style puts a dividing wedge between people, women's may overlap and downplay thi ...more
Leslie
Deborah Tannen has a keenly tuned ear and a unique ability to see patterns of communication style of which most of us are unaware. In this book, she explains her insights into the vast cultural differences separating men and women which influence - and often complicate - nearly all of our daily communication both within and between genders. It should be read by anyone who has been frustrated by: (a) his male friends constantly one-upping him; (b) her female friends allowing too little individual ...more
Jacob Siegel
I was listening to this book on an audio book because I was just doing research on feminist issues for a project and I actually found a lot of insightful things contained in it. It really was interesting to me how socialization between guys and girls are so different. A lot of times when I didn't see something like a friend of mine who was a girl did in the same way it was because I didn't understand what was meant. I was still stuck in the traditional mind frame that things are only about activ ...more
Amanda
I'm a big believer in fate and the universe. So when this book was literally dropped into my lap, I took it as a sign. I figured that by reading this book, maybe I could figure out what I was doing wrong, why I was constantly being misinterpreted. And how to make things work.

I liked this book a lot; it made sense. I like things that make sense. Deborah Tannen is a sociolinguist and in this book, she studies the conversational styles between men and women. She explains that communication between
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Renee M
Absolutely fascinating. I found this to be the most helpful books on communication and relationships that I've ever read. Tannen keeps a lively pace, making her research accessible with clear examples from a variety of situations from the playground to the boardroom.

P.S. Do not bother with the abridged audio version. The presentation does not need to be abridged and the abridgment undercuts the impact of the material.
Andrew
Looks like just another self-help book, but Tannen is the real deal: a professor of linguistics who studies conversations. Talks about how everybody thinks they're being direct, but most people have unacknowledged styles of indirectness. Also how differently people tolerate interruptions, trade roles of talking and listening, and vary between informational and emotional conversation.
Anabananalisa Salomonis
herterosexist and closed minded. If you can look past that I guess there's some interesting points, but so hard to look past.
Danielle Marsden-ballard
Deborah Tannen has produced yet another well written and well researched book with a very readable style. In "You Just Don't Understand, Tannen explores and explains the subtle and not-so subtle differences in gendered communication. This is a must read for anyone who wants to listen beyond just words, and appreciate the different styles of gendered communication, and also for teachers, supervisors, team leaders et al, who really want to communicate better. I recommend it to all my students in v ...more
Beth Cato
Do you have any interactions with people of the opposite sex? Read this book.[return][return]Do you ever wonder why even your own gender acts in such a particular why? Read this book.[return][return]Seriously, I thought this book would be a very dull, dry, read. Gender and linguistics aren't the most exciting of subjects, usually - but in Tannen's expert hands this becomes a fascinating and balanced read. It's not anti-woman or anti-man, but tries to study the reasons - cultural or otherwise - w ...more
Betsy
Hysterical... though I'm not sure others would find it so. For me, there were certainly some laugh out loud moments. For the most part I felt like this was right on the money. Certainly provided a lot of insight and helped with some questions I have long endeavored to understand regarding man/woman communication. It can be a bit cliche with the men especially since there are certainly men who these things will not apply to (seeing the world as hierarchical or as a series of negotiations for exam ...more
Jenny
Just fascinating reading! I think I missed my calling as a linguist, oops shoulda been LingLang! I gave it 4 stars cuz it was kinda long, but it was still interesting to read about conversation style differences between men and women, as studied in human behavior. This version was from 1990 so it's a little dated. But she's careful to point out nobody is "wrong," just "different," and by better understanding our differences, we can improve our communication with each other.

--"Much--even most--me
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Nathan
It's frustrating to agree with most of a book, but to come out the other end not liking it. It's as though every course of a meal was individually superb, but overall it was found lacking. In this case, I enjoyed the stories of men and women talking past each other and I like the explanation, but I quickly became tired of diagnosis and wanted some cure.

There may be no cure but understanding. Tannen's thesis is that men's minds operate in a hierarchical world of status, where independence and pro
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Emma
I wish more men would read this book (and all women with any ambition should read Tannen's 'talking from nine to five'). My partner, a very educated professional liberal type seems to think it's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and refuses to touch it, which is simply ridiculous and not at all what this book is like. All of Tannen's assertions are grounded in research, and she's careful not to stereotype, despite what some reviewers here think. She is clear about the limitations of genera ...more
cory
working through a quora list of "mind expanding" books... http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-mi...

being an awesome communicator and a step ahead of everyone else, this book is kind of boring. however, when i read it and talk honestly with my close friends about it, we share with each other and feel connected.

the above is how the two main styles of communication (men's being about status, women's being about connnection) could be summarized.

maybe it's wishful thinking, and i feel like this book w
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Katie
This book was OK. It's a non-fiction book about how women and men differ in their conversational styles, goals, and patterns. I was worried it was going to be too self-helpy (NOT my favorite genre...) but it was much more academic than that. The author is a PhD sociolinguist.

On the other hand, that made it a bit dry for my taste. It was somewhat textbook-y. There were a lot of transcripts of conversations presented to illustrate various points, which I appreciated (it's good to have evidence of
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Monique
The title of the book is somewhat misleading. True, a good portion of the book deals with the language differences between men and women, but most of the book focuses on how men and women view situations and deal with friends/co-workers.

It was still worth reading.
Kimberlee
Dec 13, 2014 Kimberlee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kimberlee by: Dickson Rothwell
This book was recommended to me by Dickson Rothwell, who believes my appetite for books in insatiable. He thinks it would be a beneficial book for my teenage daughter and thought I should peruse it before she reads it. As he is a joker, I hate to give him the satisfaction of this 4 star rating. However, I must be honest and don't want to mince words. This nonfiction book is a study of the ways men and women talk and what their words mean. Especially early in my reading of this book, I found myse ...more
Kathryn
Blah...this book just didn't do it for me. I've been married over thirty years and I think I somewhat know how to communicate with my husband, if not I should be shot. I just don't need a book explaining things for me at this stage in my life.
Chad
This is a truly awful book. While many of the author's points may be valid (in my experience many of them are) she does such a horrible job of supporting her arguments that her ideas come across as half-baked theories. If you want to write a self-help book about communication, by all means, go for it. But if you want to write a scientific treatise on linguistics you need more evidence than polls of 6 people (not even remotely statistically significant), personal vignettes reported to the author ...more
Rhonnie
I liked this book. It was less of a "learning" book and more of--relating to the observations about men and women. Women communicate to connect, and they are often concerned with being of help and being liked. Men communicate to compete, and they are concerned with remaining independent, gaining/retaining status, and conveying knowledge. There are a lot of "EXACTLY!!" moments in this book. Men react poorly to nagging because they don't want to be told what to do, especially by a woman. Oftentime ...more
Gina
I really liked this book - the way it was written and the content itself.

It was slightly more "technical" than some of the more popular nonfiction of this type, which I enjoyed. I do not like watered-down nonfiction that's written for the "lowest common denominator". This book was first published in 1990, so that might be a partial explanation.

Anyway, I learned a lot about women and men in conversation. Most importantly, I learned that women and men often have completely separate style of commu
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Hal
A classic on the topic, this book analyses gender differences in communication. Tannen is not interested in the question whether it's nature or nurture, but rather tries to explain differences she observes with a framework of status vs. connection building. She doesn't take sides and makes a pledge for people to get along better by understanding the other side better.

Tannen makes every effort to root her findings in everyday examples rather than dry study results, so as to make them more readabl
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Zack
Synopsis: Linguist Tannen explores the different ways women and men use spoken language to communicate.

Thoughts: This book is very clearly written and pretty interesting. Tannen's two big points are (1) even if boys and girls are raised within the same society, their gender-segregation during childhood produces men and women that are practicing a form of cross-cultural communication; and (2) women and men typically use different habits of communicating, neither of which is the "right" way nor th
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C
Some of the stories cited in this book seem dated, as do their resulting conclusions about the general nature of men's and women's socialization (which has probably changed slightly since 1990). However, the general idea that men and women engage in certain conversational styles because they have been socialized to value individual status or building community, respectively, resonated with me.

Of course this is a generalization that is not going to provide a satisfying explanation for all member
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Deborah Tannen is best known as the author of You Just Don't Understand, which was on The New York Times Best Seller list for nearly four years years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 29 languages. It was also on best seller lists in Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, and Hong Kong. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the ...more
More about Deborah Tannen...
You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation That's Not What I Meant! Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives I Only Say This Because I Love You: How the Way We Talk Can Make or Break Family Relationships Throughout Our Lives

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