But What Do You Mean?

751 Words Dec 7th, 2014 4 Pages
In the essay, “But What Do You Mean?” author and linguistic expert Deborah Tannen argues her feelings on how men and women vary in their use of conversational “rituals.” She states that males have a tendency to use wording to sustain dominance in conversation; however, women seem to take in to account the feelings of others. Tannen identifies seven categories in which men and women differ in communication. First, women use apologies to assure other people. Men can misapprehend these apologies as taking blame rather than as the ritual reassurance that women mean for it to be perceived. This supports what Tannen says in her essay, “But there are times when ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t self-deprecating or even an apology” (Tannen 380). Second, men are more straight-forward when criticizing more than women; women “soften” their criticism with the purpose of sparing the feelings of the person they are criticizing. Third, women often say “thank you” ritualistically, most of the time to equate the two in the conversation. Fourth, men enjoy “verbally sparring” more than women. Because of this difference, women are under the impression that they are usually condemned in a conversation. Fifth, women and men use praise differently. Women tend to expect praise open-heartedly when they are praised. Men, on the other hand, often confuse that not criticizing is praise enough. Sixth, women converse their complications in order to share their experiences; they complain not to solve their…

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