Summary Analysis Response to Men and Women in Conversation
What is a Summary, Analysis, Response Essay?
Summary, Analysis, Response Papers are a way to understand and think about what you read. These papers can be assigned as part of a research project. My College English students learn to thoroughly understand their sources by writing a 1-2 page paper on each source which:
- Summarizes: Write the main ideas of the article in your own words.
- Analyzes: Describe who the author is and what audience they are trying to persuade this article. Evaluate the structure of the text and the techniques of argument the author has used and how well the article is written to persuade that audience.
- Responds: Explain your own thoughts about this article. Evaluate what you think on this issue and relate it to your own experiences or other things you have read. Tell how you can use this article in your research paper.
The following is a sample Summary, Analysis, Response essay about an interesting article,"Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other," by Deborah Tannen. The article originally appeared in The Washinton Post, and is frequently included in College English Textbooks, but can also be found on Deborah Tannen's website.
Analyzing Audience of Text
Summary of "Sex, Lies and Conversation"
In "Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other," linguist Deborah Tannen argues that the problems of men and women in marriage often stem from the fact that they misunderstand what the other person is really trying to say. Tannen notes that her own research concluded that women's most frequent complaint in marriage was that their husbands did not listen to them, but that when she examined actual conversations, she found that the problem was not that men don't listen, but that they listen differently.
Using her own research and that of other psychologists and sociologists, Tannen outlines the idea that men and women are raised to communicate differently. Little girls bond by sharing secrets and comforting each other by sharing stories, looking into one another's eyes, and becoming intimate through vulnerability. Boys, on the other hand, live in a hierarchical world where they need to struggle to find their place. Tannen's research shows that men do bond, but it is by negotiating in a more competitive environment where listening for too long makes them feel they are put down, and where they share problems in order to have a friend give them solutions, or to be reassured the problem isn't important.
These differences in expectations about close relationships, Tannen concludes, causes men and women to be frustrated in intimate relationships with the opposite sex, especially marriage. However, Tannen reassures us, learning about these communication differences can help couples to say what they really mean and hear what the other person is really trying to communicate.
Tannen asks us to move away from psychological models of relationships which assign blame to one sex or the other, and to instead move to a sociolinguistic understanding of communication between the sexes. Ideally, couples can adapt to one another's styles, but also understand when it is more effective to get some communication needs met by other friends. Ultimately, Tannen seeks to relieve the pressure on communication in marriage by giving couples more realistic expectations.
Tannen Lecture on Differences in Boys and Girls Conversations
What is the Context of Publication and Author Purpose?
The argument of "Sex, Lies and Conversation" is one that Tannen has written about at length in her academic work and in her bestselling 1990 book, You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation. This article was written for The Washington Post at the time of her book's publication and is a summary of her main ideas as well as an advertisement for her book.
How well does the Author appeal to the Audience?
Generally, a linguist doesn't speak to a mass audience, and so Tannen's attempt to apply the discourse of linguistic studies to everyday life is a bit audacious, but her use of everyday examples, such as the talkative man at a dinner party who is silent at home, and the woman who feels her boyfriend is ignoring her when he lies down when she is speaking makes her work accessible for her intended audience, a typical married couple. Moreover, Tannen for the most part avoids academic terms (although she can't help but make a jab at psychologists and their "mechanical engineering" which she suggests tend to evolve into a blame game) and presents her arguments in common language that her audience can understand, even ending with a pithy re-writing of an old favorite: "Like charity, successful cross-cultural communication should begin at home."
How Effective is Article for the Audience?
While this article doesn't fully explain how a couple can actually achieve that effective cross-cultural communication, Tannen does give a few specific tips such as not assuming that your spouse isn't listening just because they don't give you the non-verbal cues you expect. Primarily, this article makes the reader consider re-thinking their attitudes and actions towards communicating with the opposite sex, and, moreover, makes the reader interested in reading more about Tannen's ideas, which is, of course, one of her purposes in writing the article.
Men and Women in Communication
How do You like Friends to Help?
When you share a problem with a friend, do you want them to:
Personal Reaction to Article
After reading this article, I began to think about my own communication with my husband in the previous week. As a matter of fact, we had experienced a miscommunication which was exactly the type Tannen describes. Thinking the matter through from the lens of the differences in communication styles that this article presents actually helped me to clarify why my husband had been upset, and why my response had not satisfied it.
How Article will help in Essay
This article will be useful in my paper exploring the question, "How can a couple have a marriage that lasts a lifetime?" because it will help me explain that divorce is not inevitable and that there are steps that couples can take to avoid the misunderstandings which often lead to hurt feelings, blame, and eventual estrangement.
How Men Talk
Who is Deborah Tannen?
Deborah Tannen is a linguistics professor who is well known for writing popular books to explain how differences in communication styles can create problems in communication. The main point she wants to communicate in most of her work is that communication problems can often be cleared up if people are taught to read the way other people communicate differently. She suggests that we often read other people based on our own cultural, or gender-specific beliefs and practices of communication which include not only what is said but also:
- how something is said
- what is not said
- the tone of voice
- the loudness of speech
- whether we look at someone or not
- body posture
- how close we stand to someone
What is Your Response?
What do you think about the ideas in Deborah Tannen's article? Do you think that men and women really do communicate differently? Do you have any personal experiences you'd like to share? I'd love for you to add your response in the comments below.