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That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships Paperback – July 5, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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  • That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"We are, all of us, foreigners to each other: editor and writer, man and woman, Californian and New Yorker, friend and friend. Dr. Tannen shows us how different we are, and how to speak the same language."
Jack Rosenthal
Pultizer Prize winner and editor
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Deborah Tannen, who revolutionaized our thinking about relationships between women and men in her bestsller YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND, shows that conversational confusion between the sexes is only part of the picture. In THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!, Dr. Tannen shows that growing up in different parts of the country, having different ethnic and class backgrounds, even age and indvidual personality, all contribute to different conversational styles. Entertaining and informative, this is an essential complement to psychological theories of human behavior. No one who has read Deborah Tannen's fascinating look at women and men will want to miss a word of it!

From the Back Cover

At home, on the job, in a personal relationship, it's often not what you say but how you say it that counts.

Deborah Tannen revolutionized our thinking about relationships between women and men in her #1 bestseller You Just Don't Understand. In That's Not What I Meant!, the internationally renowned sociolinguist and expert on communication demonstrates how our conversational signals—voice level, pitch and intonation, rhythm and timing, even the simple turns of phrase we choose—are powerful factors in the success or failure of any relationship. Regional speech characteristics, ethnic and class backgrounds, age, and individual personality all contribute to diverse conversational styles that can lead to frustration and misplaced blame if ignored—but provide tools to improve relationships if they are understood.

At once eye-opening, astute, and vastly entertaining, Tannen's classic work on interpersonal communication will help you to hear what isn't said and to recognize how your personal conversational style meshes or clashes with others. It will give you a new understanding of communication that will enable you to make the adjustments that can save a conversation . . . or a relationship.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Rei Rep edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062062999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062062994
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Deborah Tannen is the acclaimed author of You Just Don't Understand, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly four years including eight months as #1; the ten-week New York Times bestseller You're Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You're All Adults, which won the Books for a Better Life Award; Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work; That's Not What I Meant!; and many other books. A professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, she has written for and been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She appears frequently on TV and radio, including such shows as 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She is university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I assign Tannen's That's Not What I Meant for my college students to read. They frequently report how reading and discussing it for our class has transformed their close relationships with friends and family - particularly with their spouses - as they're much better able to understand each other and how they and others communicate. Most say they can't wait to finish reading the book so they can make their husband or wife read it. Occasionally, a student will complain (unfairly, perhaps) that Tannen uses too many examples, but most recognize that each example serves to illustrate a concept Tannen discusses, keeping the book grounded in the concrete and tangible and staying away from getting too abstract. From an instructor's perspective, I see Tannen's examples as well-balanced with the rest of the book's content; there are enough examples to make the concepts clear but not so much that one gets bored waiting for her to make her point. Her prose is clear and concise, and the book is organized so that the later concepts build upon the earlier ones in a helpful and logical way.

Tannen helps us understand how we don't just pay attention to the words spoken: in fact, we pay less attention to the message than what she calls the "metamessage": the implied and inferred meanings that each utterance evokes. Language is a lot more complex than we think, and by understanding that, we'll be much better able to understand each other - and understand why we sometimes seem to "click" so well with someone we've only just met, or why conversations sometimes feel awkward or go very badly awry (and how to avoid or at least mitigate such failures). For example, with the (now-cliche'd) question "Does this dress make me look fat?
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I am so glad that the publishers released this book again. I have seen Tannen speak about the book's content on a video recording of a talk given (I think) at Georgetown. The content is so enlightening; I am convinced that her work could save many a marriage, if studied. I teach conflict management, and I am adding this to my required reading list.
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Format: Paperback
This book may not be the most exciting read . . . but the information soaks in usefully. It's a great help in not taking personally situations that would have been previously experienced as hurtful and offensive. The information doesn't necessarilly suggest solutions; but it certainly offers a way out of schismogeny.
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A good book that I enjoyed reading. It might be a little ethnocentric at times and it might not appeal to people from other cultures, such as latinos like myself.
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By Geneva E. on February 11, 2014
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Fun info that will let you take a moment before you start cutting your partner/friend/lover/friend down for saying something you thought was rude or thoughtless. Lets you see how a bit of understanding and compassion can go a long ways to make life with others humans more enjoyable. Definitely a positive message to get anyone out of prejudgements ;)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some people dig on Tannen's writing style, full of hypothetical situations, but I find it distracts and waters-down her findings. Hypothetical examples are fine once in awhile, but that's all there is in this book. Others may like the way she presents her info, but it is not for me.
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It's a great book to learn how to communicate to others. This is great especially for relationships and learned to be an effective communicator.
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This book is incredible... after sitting in meetings that ended in great misunderstandings and lots of finger pointing and name calling, I told the
group I had a book for them to read. At least one took it to heart and read the book and maybe one other skimmed the book but now the meet-
ings are respectful and thoughtful most of the time. Until one learns about framing what they are saying ... confusion, hurt and angered feelings will be apart of the conversation. If you have trouble being understood, please read Deborah Tannen's book. You will never have to say, "That's Not What I Meant!"
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