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You Just Don't Understand

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  3,891 ratings  ·  233 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

Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1990)
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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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
The book had some revolutionary conclusions on how men and women approach conversations, interactions, life, which will forever change the way I interact with individuals, people of different cultures. But the journey was dry, I jumped in between to other books, did other stuff , anything but read - at least 30/40 times, it was a struggle to continue, I wished the author had just summarised instead of dragging it so long. Could have been shorter.
3 stars.
There isn't a lot of hard science in the book, but I found it an incredibly useful framework to discuss communication and miscommunication. Most of the generalizations about male patterns resonated with my experience and there were tons of useful examples which sparked discussions over who said what and who meant what. I think I understand communication better after reading this.
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
Michael David
Back when I was in high school, I was known for being an asshole. I had personified the traditional style of men with regard to conversation: I strove for status and dominance. While I wasn't muscular, I made up for my figure with academic excellence, and verbal acid. I had to prove to others that I was better than them.

I changed drastically when I was in college. Because I was exposed to the humanities as well as competent professors of its subjects, I learned how to be even-tempered and kinde
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

It’s amazing how much conflict in romance novels stems from the hero and heroine not communicating. Of course, the most obvious example here is the Big Misunderstanding trope, but even more coherent couples sometimes have the hardest time having a coherent conversation. You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation is a limited book in scope and depth, but it does help explain why our heroes and heroines often seem to be having entirely separa
working through a quora list of "mind expanding" books...

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
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
I was struggling through this book, trying to find a point in it. Most of the information seemed to be repeating itself over and over, and quite honestly, I just grew tired of the redundancies. Basically, the whole book could be summed up in one or two pages. Also, the author kept describing one example after the other for certain behaviours, but I never felt like she explained WHY certain people/genders showed certain behaviors. Lots of generalizations, too. Pretty disappointing.
Rachel Scott
I will be honest. I did not finish this book. I could not bring myself to do it. That is why I did not give a star rating, but if I had I would have given it one star... maybe
This book is full circular reasoning and lacks any substantial evidence. I should have known the book would be ridiculous because you can't put things, especially gender, in a box. Not all women communicate to connect and not all men try to climb the hierarchy ladder- too assume so is idiotic. This book could be a starting
302.2 TAN
My summary: Extremely worth reading dealing with relationship problem with men and women.

In the most cultures, women hold lower status than mean, which in turn to result every women style's to be evaluated negatively, such as if women prefer indirectness, never boast or brag, politeness often interpreted as powerlessness and incompetence.

The essential different from woman and men, dated way back to our hunting ancestor, which men must be aggressive in order to obtain food, women must b
Amos Smith
This is a good book for understanding challenges in communication between men and women. One of Tannen's many insights is that men and women grow up in different environments. Women tend to grow up in more cooperative and conversational environments where being liked is paramount. Men grow up in more competitive environments where respect is the name of the game. This changes the way men and women go about relationships. The underlying question a man often asks in a relationship is "Does this pe ...more
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.
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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
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