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“But What Do You Mean?” Rhetorical Analysis

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In her, article “But What Do You Mean?” Deborah Tannen elucidates, “why do men and woman communicates badly, if at all?” Tannen’s research has been motivated by this very question. She also expresses the reasoning for the miscommunication that is happening and why. Many of the most conversational rituals, common among men try to maintain the one –up position while woman tend to take the one-down position when it comes to apologizing , criticism, saying thank you, fighting, praising, complaints, and joking that are occurring among the work place.“ Many of the conversational rituals common among woman are designed to take the other person’s feelings into account, while many of the conversational rituals common among men are to have the advantage while woman automatically often have the disadvantage.” (par 3) Tannen wants everyone to realize that “there is no “right” way to talk but styled differences can be blamed for when a problem arises.” (par 30) Why is it that “the bad seems good, and the negative positive?”

These are misleading verbal situations directed towards helping men look better in the workplace. “Unfortunately, woman and men often have different ways of speaking.” (par2) Women tend to be considerate of someone else’s feelings when they are speaking with them and try to be pleasant when doing so, whereas when men are talking they don’t really care if it hurts the person’s feelings. They just say what the need to say to makes them look good. The content is showing the reality of how it really is in a work place. The women are automatically at fault, no matter what. Unless they start sticking up for themselves, this is going to keep happening. They also need how to take criticism and turn into a positive form. Woman sometimes tend to take things to personal, when it is not directed towards them personally it is someone’s opinion of what they are thinking. Everyone does have the right to his or her own opinion.

The exigencies of the story is that the problem with the communication men and woman are facing is because the lack of effort towards the men in taking part of the blame when they are at fault. “When both parties share blame it is a mutual face saving device. But if one person, usually the woman, utters frequent apologies and the other doesn’t she ends up looking as if she’s taking the blame for mishaps that aren’t her fault.” (par6) Men have the tendency to let the woman take all of the blame, which is not fair to the woman and it makes them look bad as well. This shows a bad judge of character on the man’s part. When there is, an issue that needs to “be addressed” there should be a bias person there to help this situation at hand, so those women do not keep making the same mistakes and just dealing with the fault every time something is to blame. When It comes to ethos, Deborah Tannen who has a PhD in linguists from the University of California, Berkeley has been specializing in this subject for the last twenty years or so of her life.

Deborah Tannen, “America’s conversational therapist”, has been specializing in the communication between men and woman for many years and people respect her advice because it. She has traveled the world speaking among business people, senators, making television appearances, and has even published many best-selling books like , You Just Don’t Understand (1990), The Argument Culture (1998), I only s Say This Because I love You (2001),and You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! (2009). She has also written articles published in magazines such as Redbook. Tannen argues that “woman are apologizing to much” (par4), or saying I am sorry for no needed reason, and even saying thank you for what though? Why is that happening to often among woman than as little as the men have this communication problem at work? ” The reason they are told to stop doing it is that, to many men, apologizing seems synonymous with putting oneself down.” (par4) Her logical appeal is women are often taking full credit for the entire communication problem in the workplace instead of only taking half the blame. “The logic is that when you are challenged you will rise to the occasion.” (par17)

Then woman to start rising to the occasion and let the men take the blame for once. The women need to start sticking up for themselves and only take the blame that is there has to take. Men tend to take woman kindness for weakness. Woman need to quit being weak and stick up for themselves otherwise will still claim the fame every time that happens. When woman do so, the men will know better that woman are sticking up for their feminism and will not let the men over power them anymore. Woman need to stop taking full credit for something they have not done. Deborah also states that, “like many rituals typical of woman’s conversation, it depends on the goodwill of the other to restore the balance. When the other speaker does not reciprocate, a woman may feel like a seesaw whose partner abandoned his end. Instead of balancing in the air, she plopped to the ground, wondering how she got there” This is because woman put herself in that position. They need to affirmation of what they are saying.

“We say things that seem obviously the thing to say, without literal meaning of our words, any more than we expect the question to call forth a detailed account.” (par1) For instance, a woman may say I am sorry and has not even done anything wrong. Then why is it that she apologizing? Usually it a force of habit, woman do not mean to do so but they do it anyway. They need to stop think what they say before they say it, so they do not keep making these problems for themselves. After all that is said and done, when it comes to communication between a man and woman we finally realize that communication between men and woman as always been difficult, “there is no “right way” to talk. When problems arise, the culprit may be style differences- and all style differences will at times fail with others who do not understand them, just as English will not do you much good if you try to speak it to someone who only knows French.” (par30) Women seem to be more adept at talking because they developed communication skills earlier in life than male.

They are also better at communicator because eat a young age females seems to interact more with others by talking than more so than with males. With men it is a culture expectance for men to be “right” all the time and women to be wrong. Times are changing as women if they end up in a position that they are going to be the “blame” or at “fault” to make sure to gain an advantage over the men otherwise, you will be constantly end up in the one-down position. They should stick up for themselves, not take thing to literal, stop saying I am sorry or thank you as much, take criticism constructively, quit complaining as much and learn to be more at ease not so uptight. Maybe then, men and woman will communicate better in the future and make it easier to go to work the next day because they will know how to talk to one another.

Work cited:
Tannen, Deborah,” But What Do You Mean? (communication differences between men and woman).Vol.183, Redbook 1 Oct. 1994.

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