Week 3 Assignment 1

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********I have attached the reading, Please open and read in order to complete this assignment correctly*************

From your course textbook, Ticket to Write, read the chapter titled “Can’t We Talk?” by Deborah Tannen.

After reading and reflecting on the article, respond to the following: “Men grow up in a world in which a conversation is often a contest, either to achieve the upper hand or to prevent other people from pushing them around. For many women, however, talking is typically often a way to exchange confirmation and support” (Tannen, 2016, p. 632).

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  • Do you agree or disagree with Tannen’s statement? Support your point of view with reasons and examples.
  • What has been your experience?
  • How does the author present this difference in communication between men and women in her essay?
  • Is she effective in her presentation?
  • How does she use detail and organization to support her points?

In-Text Citation Example

According to Tannen (2016), “To many men, a complaint is a challenge to come up with a solution” (p. 633).


Tannen, D. (2016). Can’t we talk? In S. S. Thurman, & W. L. Gary, Jr. (Eds.), Ticket to write: Writing Paragraph and Essay. [Vital Source Bookshelf] (pp. 631-633). Retrieved from myeclassonline.com

Week 3 Assignment 1
“Can’t We Talk?” (condensed from: You Just Don’t Understand) by Deborah Tannen A married couple was in a car when the wife turned to her husband and asked, “Would you like to stop for a coffee?” “No, thanks,” he answered truthfully. So they didn’ t stop. The result? The wife, who had indeed wanted to stop , became annoyed because she felt her preference had not been considered. The husband , seeing his wife was angry, became frustrated. Why didn’t she just say what she wanted ? Unfortunately, he failed to see that his wife was a sking the question not to get an instant decision, but to begin a negotiation. And the woman didn’t realize that when her husband said no, he was just expressing his preference, not making a ruling. When a man and woman interpret the same interchange in such confli cting ways, it’s no wonder they can find themselves leveling angry charges of selfishne ss and obstinacy at each other. As a specialist in linguistics, I have studied how the conversational styles of men and women differ. We cannot lump all men or all women i nto fixed categories. But the seemingly senseless misunderstandings that haunt ou r relationships can in part be explained by the different conversational rules by which men and women play. Whenever I write or speak about this subject, peopl e tell me they are relieved to learn that what has caused them trouble – and what they had pr eviously ascribed to personal failings – is, in fact, very common. Learning about the different though equally valid c onversational frequencies men and women are tuned to can help banish the blame and he lp us truly talk to one another. Here are some of the most common areas of conflict: Status vs. Support. Men grow up in a world in which a conversation is o ften a contest, either to achieve the upper hand or to prevent other people from pushing them around. For women, however, talking is often a way to exchange confirmation and support. I saw this when my husband and I had jobs in differ ent cities. People frequently made comments like, “That must be rough,” and “How do yo u stand it?” I accepted their sympathy and sometimes even reinforced it, saying, “The worst part is having to pack and unpack al the time.” But my husband often reacted with irritation. Our s ituation had advantages, he would explain. As academics, we had four-day weekends tog ether, as well as long vacations throughout the year and four months in the summer. Everything he said was true, but I didn’t understand why he chose to say it. He told me that some of the comments implied: “Yours is not a real marriage. I am superior to you because my wife and I have avoided your misfortune. ” Until then it had not occurred to me there might be an element of one- upmanship. I now see that my husband was simply approaching th e world as many men do: as a place where people try to achieve and maintain status. I, on the other hand, was approaching the world as many women do: as a network of connect ions seeking support and consensus. Independence vs. Intimacy. Since women often think in terms of closeness and s upport, they struggle to preserve intimacy. Men, concerned with status, tend to focus more on independence. These traits can lead women and men to starkly different views o f the same situation. When Josh’s old high-school friend called him at wo rk to say he’d be in town, Josh invited him to stay for the weekend. That evening h e told Linda they were having a house guest. Linda was upset. How could Josh make these plans wi thout discussing them with her beforehand? She would never do that to him. “Why do n’t you tell your friend you have to check with your wife?” she asked. Josh replied, “I can’t tell my friend, ‘I have to a sk my wife for permission’!” To Josh, checking with his wife would mean he was n ot free to act on his own. It would make him feel like a child or an underling. But Lin da actually enjoys telling someone, “I have to check with Josh.” It makes her feel good to show that her life is intertwined with her husband’s. Advice vs. Understanding. Eve had a benign lump removed from her breast. When she confided to her husband, Mark, that she was distressed because the stitches changed the contour of her breast, he answered, “You can always have plastic surgery.” This comment bothered her. “I’m sorry you don’t lik e the way it looks,” she protested. “But I’m not having any more surgery!” Mark was hurt and puzzled. “I don’t care about a sc ar,” he replied. “It doesn’t bother me at all.” “Then why are you telling me to have plastic surger y?” she asked. “Because you were upset about the way it looks.” Eve felt like a heel. Mark had been wonderfully supportive throughout her surgery. How could she snap at him now? The problem stemmed from a difference in approach. To many men a complaint is a challenge to come up with a solution. Mark thought he was reassuring Eve by telling her there was something she could do about her scar. Bu t often women are looking for emotional support, not solutions. When my mother tells my father she doesn’t feel wel l, he invariably offers to take her to the doctor. Invariably, she is disappointed with hi s reaction. Like many men, he is focused on what he can do, whereas she wants sympat hy. Information vs. Feelings. A cartoon shows a husband opening a newspaper and a sking his wife, “Is there anything you’d like to say to me before I start reading the paper?” We know there isn’t – but that as soon as the man begins reading, his wife will think of something. The cartoon is funny because people recognize their own experience in it. What’s not funny is that many women are hurt when men don’t ta lk to them at home, and many men are frustrated when they disappoint their partners without knowing why. Rebecca, who is happily married, told me this is a source of dissatisfaction with her husband, Stuart. When she tells him what she is thi nking, he listens silently. When she asks him what is on his mind, he says, “Nothing.” All Rebecca’s life she has had practice in verbaliz ing her feelings with friends and relatives. But Stuart has had practice in keeping h is innermost thoughts to himself. To him, like most men, talk is information. He doesn’t feel that talk is required at home. Yet many such men hold center stage in a social set ting, telling jokes and stories. They use conversation to claim attention and to entertai n. Women can wind up hurt that their husbands tell relative strangers things they have n ot told them. To avoid this kind of misunderstanding, both men an d women can make adjustments. A woman may observe a man’s desire to read the paper without seeing it is a rejection. And a man can understand a woman’s desire to talk witho ut feeling it is a manipulative intrusion. Orders vs. Proposals. Diana often begins statements with “Let’s.” She mig ht say “Let’s park over there” or “Let’s clean up now, before lunch.” This makes Nathan angry. He has deciphered Diana’s “Let’s” as a command. Like most men, he resists being told what to do. But to Diana , she is making suggestions, not demands. Like most women, she formulates her requests as proposals rather than orders. Her style of talking is a way of getting others to do what she wants – but by winning agreement first. With certain men, like Nathan, this tactic backfire s. If they perceive someone is trying to get them to do something indirectly, they feel mani pulated and respond more resentfully than they would to a straightforward request. Conflict vs. Compromise. In trying to prevent fights, some women refuse to o ppose the will of others openly. But sometimes it’s far more effective for a woman to as sert herself, even at the risk of conflict. Dora was frustrated by a series of used cars she dr ove. It was she who commuted to work, but her husband, Hank, who chose the cars. Ha nk always went for cars that were “interesting” but in continual need of repair. After Dora was nearly killed when her brakes failed , they were in the market for yet another used car. Dora wanted to buy a late-model s edan from a friend. Hank fixed his sights on a 15-year-old sports car. She tried to pe rsuade Hank that it made more sense to buy the boring but dependable car, but he would not be swayed. Previously she would have acceded to his wishes. Th is time Dora bought the boring but dependable car and steeled herself for Hanks’ anger . To her amazement, he spoke not a word of remonstrance. When she later told him what she had expected, he scoffed at her fears and said she should have done what she wanted from the start if she felt that strongly about it. As Dora discovered, a little conflict won’t kill yo u. At the same time, men who habitually oppose others can adjust their style to opt for les s confrontation. When we don’t see style differences for what they a re, we sometimes draw unfair conclusions: “You’re illogical,” “You’re self- cent ered,” “You don’t care about me.” But once we grasp the two characteristic approaches, we stand a better chance of preventing disagreements from spiraling out of control. Learning the other’s ways of talking is a leap acro ss the communication gap between men and women, and a giant step towards genuine underst anding.


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