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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Rei Rep edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062062999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062062994
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

About the Author

Deborah Tannen is Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Her books include the New York Times bestsellers You Just Don't Understand, You're Wearing THAT?, Talking from 9 to 5, and You Were Always Mom's Favorite!. She has written for and been featured in numerous major newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, the Washington Post, and Time.


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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
It's a great book to learn how to communicate to others.
Priyam Bhargava
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.
Klint Hull
Everyone will carry away a better understanding of how we communicate with this little gem of a guide.
Mary Ann Stern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Klint Hull on January 31, 2012
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Symons on October 31, 2011
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CK on July 11, 2012
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gonzalo Marturet on July 15, 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Kanost on December 27, 2011
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Easy to read, essential to understand. I regularly recommend this book to psychology students and clients. It's clear and blame free.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ann Stern on July 3, 2012
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Everyone will carry away a better understanding of how we communicate with this little gem of a guide. Deborah Tannen once again has made a contribution in giving us the tools to improve civility in our day to day lives at home, work or school.
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By Dr. D on April 14, 2014
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That's not what I meant has been an interesting read. It has truly made me think more about conversational styles, as well as gender and cultural differences as a way of making meaning of the conversational breakdowns that affect personal relationship. At times, Tannon's examples are almost verbatim of conversations in which I have participated and I think 'Ah! So that's why that went south!' I enjoyed the breakdown of each of the chapters and have been challenged more about thinking about balancing involvement vs independence.
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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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