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You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
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You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,493 ratings  ·  353 reviews
From the author of New York Times bestseller You're Wearing That? this bestselling classic work draws upon groundbreaking research by an acclaimed sociolinguist to show that women and men live in different worlds, made of different words.

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

Spending nearly four years on the New York Times bestseller list, includ
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1990)
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Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociolinguistics
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
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Aurélien Thomas
Here we are again, another book on the different ways of communicating between men and women! Here we are again, another book milking the juicy debates Martians vs Venusians! Here we are again, but...

We are dealing here with proper sociolinguistics, a perfectly respectable field in which Deborah Tannen is not only an eminent researcher, but, also, was Robin Lakoff's student, the author of the 'Language and women's place'' the book that started it all when it comes to studying the connection (if
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Jun 05, 2016 added it
Shelves: linguistics
Thank goodness, this book is terribly dated. Though she does acknowledge there are exceptions to gender-specific communication, You Just Don't Understand serves as another example that gender is on a sliding scale rather than on a fixed point. For instance, she writes, "Women feel it is natural to consult with their partners at every turn, while men automatically make more decisions without consulting their partners...Women expect decisions to be discussed first and made by feel ...more
Jacob Siegel
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wordsaboutwords
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.
Darcy Leech
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Chapter summaries written for Graduate Credit by 4.0 GPA student in 2015

You Just Don't Understand chapter summaries

1. In this chapter the author discusses the differences in communication styles between men and women. Men are said to focus on hierarchy, competition and independence. In contrast women focus on building intimacy and connection through conversation. These pattern seem to be built into our makeup, though they're only patterns. Men and women both freedom to be who they are, but for s
Shay Vande
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learn, lgbt
This book will absolutely change the way you see the world and I'm recommending it to literally everyone, including acquaintances.

If you're looking at the title and assuming it's going to be studies to segregate men and women unfairly and blame one group or the other, my advice would be to at least read the preface before deciding to avoid it. The author was great about explaining both sides, and providing evidence in the form of research and experiment findings, interviews, fictional and non-fi
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, in, nonfiction
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
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
I decided to read this book because I listened to her lectures before and I've even shown one of her videos to my class about gender styles and conversation. I liked her analysis and thought it was insightful so I thought I'd give this a whirl. I was disappointed. Nothing wrong with Tannen. She certainly knows her stuff. However, she mainly gave a lot of examples. But with examples after examples after examples, I got tired of it and thought to myself, "Ok great. But when's the theory behind the ...more
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
Renee M
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Trailblazing. First book I can remember reading that really pointed out how women put themselves at a disadvantage in the way they communicate at work. Apologizing for things they have no control of and often times no connection to. We tend not to talk up our accomplishments whereas men do etc. I think this was one of the first books to explore these types of things.
Samridhi Khurana
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wouldn't categorize it as a psychology or behavioral sciences book. There are too many anecdotes presented by the author and the conclusions are over simplified. After a point, I just combed through the content, and my take aways from the book are absolutely none.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Basically, Tannen took 352 pages to say "Men and women communicate differently, accept it." Only I just said that in seven words.
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.
Mila Rossi
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
So I did not finish this book because honestly, I got bored. I also felt like some of the info was outdated. My rating is based on the chapters of the book that I did read.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
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
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Danielle Marsden-ballard
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: communication
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
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I reread this book a few weeks ago, having first read it about 15 years ago. It is a classic. I needed to be reminded of the stylistic differences between men and women in conversation.I was having the feeling that some of the communication barriers I was having with my husband were mainly about the way we use language and how we interpret language, based on the paradigms we live in. Wish I had more time to give a more thorough review, but it was an excellent read and resource.
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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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“A woman will be inclined to repeat a request that doesn't get a response because she is convinced that her husband would do what she asks, if he only understood that she really wants him to do it. But a man who wants to avoid feeling that he is following orders may instinctively wait before doing what she asked, in order to imagine that he is doing it of his own free will.” 4 likes
“We all want, above all, to be heard. We want to be understood—heard for what we think we are saying, for what we know we meant.” 2 likes
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