July 22, 2014
"But What Do You Mean?"
In Deborah Tannen's essay "But What Do You Mean?," she discusses how men and women differ in their use of communication "rituals." Women are designed to take other person's feelings into consideration and men are designed to maintain a one-sided position. She describes seven ways men and women miscommunicate. First, women use apologies to reassure an individual and men can misinterpret apologies as acceptance of them taking the blame. Second, men criticize more directly than women. Women "soften" their criticism in order to spare the feelings of the person they are criticizing. Third, women often say "thank you" repetitively. Fourth, men enjoy "verbally sparring" more than women. Women feel that they are being attacked in a conversation. Fifth, women and men use praise differently. Women tend to expect praise when they have done a good job and men tend to think that not criticizing is praise. Sixth, women discuss their problems in order to share their experiences. They complain not to have their problems solved but to show sympathy. Men don't view the complaints as conversation, but as problems to be solved. Finally, men and women tend to differ in their senses of humor. Men prefer teasing and "playful insults" while women prefer humor that is more "self-deprecating." Because of these differences, women can misinterpret men's humor as "hostile." In her essay, Tannen's argument is convincing; however, I would have to disagree with her arguments on miscommunication styles between the sexes of apologizing, and fighting.
Unfortunately, from reading her essay, Tannen tends to show a lot of bias when she writes. And even though, she does deal with several conversational styles and examples. Tannen is writing based on a female's point of view. She gives no actual experience in looking from a man's perspective. Tannen's first agreement is based on Apologies. Tannen starts her argument with "women are often told they apologize too much." In the second paragraph, she states that women often apologize and take credit for half of the blame. Women expect the other person to take the other half, so it won't be entirely her fault. I don't agree with this argument. I believe women tend apologize too much because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences and promoting harmony in relationships with others. For example, on a daily basis, the Riverside City College women's throwing team participates in throwing drills to perfect their techniques. Their coach will occasionally come around and correct their mistakes. If one...