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Summary Deborah Tannen

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Deborah Tannen in her essay “Why Can’t He Hear What I’m Saying?” relates to a problem that every person regardless of age, race or sex, will have to face many times in his or her lifetime. It explains the author’s theory that both men and women are listening to one another, but because they have been taught different ways of communicating, different values and to have different purposes when speaking, they feel as if they are not communicating. Deborah Tannen notes that men are confused by the various ways women use conversation to be intimate with them, because women see their men as the closest friends. The author also tells the reader that the men are usually straightforward and to the point, and they use conversation to achieve or maintain social status.

Women, on the other hand, often use more words that imply feelings and emotions, because the conversation for them is a way of connecting and negotiating. In conclusion, the author states that men are expected to be tough and women are expected to seek support. These themes seem to be the root of the conflict between the sexes, so I would propose that each sex should do their best to break away from these expectations. Men should strive to be more open and less concerned about preserving a macho image whereas women should strive to be less dependent on the approval of others. While my proposed solution would not completely abolish miscommunication between the sexes, it would be a large step in the right direction.

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