Essay on The Qualms of Communication

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The Qualms of Communication

"He never talks to me!" That phrase is the most common complaint that women have about men. The communication process between men and women has long been an interest for many people. The way we speak and why we speak that way have prompted diverse opinions from various authors over the years. Deborah Tannen is one such author. Tannen, who has a doctorate in linguistics, is a professor at Georgetown University. She has been studying the way people communicate and the problems they have communicating with each other for many years. Her studies inspired her to write several books on the subject. The excerpt “Put Down That Paper and Talk To Me,” which appears in the textbook Writing the World, was taken from her
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In her book Tannen describes the way males and females talk with the terms “report-talk” and “rapport-talk.” She says that men speak in “report-talk” which means that they are talking mainly to share information. They also use speaking as a way to preserve their independence, negotiate their relationships, and display their knowledge. According to Tannen, men utilize talking primarily as a way to get and keep the attention. Tannen believes the way women speak is through “rapport-talk.” She thinks that women are speaking to establish connections with each other, usually based on similar experiences. In her opinion, women are speaking mainly for interaction purposes rather than to share information.

Tannen also uses the phrases “public speaking” and “private speaking.” Tannen suggests that men communicate more and are more comfortable while doing “public speaking.” In her studies, Tannen found that men talk more frequently and for a longer period of time than women in a business or meeting-type setting. Tannen believes that women are more comfortable doing “private speaking” because they are free to talk with someone who they feel close to without worrying about how their talk will be judged. On the phone or chatting with friends is when Tannen believes women are most at ease while conversing.

Being a well-known author, Tannen has her fair share of critics. Tannen’s beliefs of being raised in separate conversational cultures has
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