THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Your Relations with Others by Deborah Tannen

THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Your Relations with Others

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pop linguistics presented by a professor of the subject familiar with the pop worlds of New York, Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine through her writings therein. Tannen has much to say about conversational style, by which she means not so much what we say as how we say it (""the metamessage""), what is communicated about relationships by the tone, expression, and code words used in conversing. Women are masters of the metamessage, while men are totally unconcerned with it. This is why the American way of business is to ""get down to brass tacks,"" not waste time on small talk. She posits a double bind in all conversational interplay--a need both for involvement and for independence. Following this theory, she echoes linguist Robin Lakoff's three rules of conversation: 1) Don't impose; keep your distance, 2) Give options; let the other person have a say, 3) Be friendly; maintain camaraderie. Tannen's strengths are in pinpointing the dilemma, but when it comes to giving advice, she falters. In fact, the problem with a book like this is that the reader, if he takes it seriously, will come away paralyzed into speechlessness; the random ""um"" or ""ah"" carries too much weight.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow