Thursday, October 13, 2011

Miscommunication=Missed Opportunities

THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT! by Deborah TannenDeborah Tannen, Ph.D., professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and author of the classic You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, is—thankfully—a great communicator—translating complex research findings into readable and helpful books for students and those of us without advanced degrees.

In That’s Not What I Meant!, Professor Tannen reminds us that it’s often not what you say but how you say it. The part of the country you come from, your ethnic background, age, class, gender, and individual personality—these and many other influences result in different habits and assumptions about how to say what you mean. When conversational styles differ, you may draw erroneous conclusions about another person’s intentions and abilities—and they may walk away with similarly erroneous impressions of you.

For example, when two people have different ideas about how long a pause to leave between turns, each is likely to blame the other: “You don’t give me a chance to talk! You’re not doing your part in this conversation!” A person who prefers indirectness feels ignored by someone who expects ideas to be stated outright. One person thinks asking personal questions shows interest while another finds such questions intrusive.

Professor Tannen gives your students a revolutionary new way of understanding what goes on when they talk to others—and a set of tools they can use when they are not happy with the way a conversation, or a relationship, is going.

“Tannen combines a novelist’s ear for the way people speak with a rare power of original analysis. . . . Fascinating.”—Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and The Mind’s Eye

Are you interested in considering That’s Not What I Meant! (Harper Paperbacks: 9780062062994, $14.99) for one of your courses? Let us know by filling out our desk copy form.

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