Top critical review
22 people found this helpful
Are We All Freaking About Misunderstanding Each Other?
on September 13, 2000
Tannen addressed problems in interpersonal communication, which is caused by metamessages, cultural difference, disparate conversational styles and choices, and misunderstood intentions (especially between men and women). With no doubt this is quality and eye-opening information to know and to keep in mind. Yet Tannen's account also provokes widespread fear that people will no longer communicate with one another at the risk of hurting or misunderstanding others.
I believe that we should all keep in mind cultural, gender, and ever age differences in using metamessages and communicating through body languages and facial expressions. People might choose to speak indrectly to avoid confrontation or be polite. Yet I don't agree with the fact that "the more contact people have with each other, the more opportunities both have to do things in their own way and be misunderstood." In a way, Tannen is giving people (especially couples with problematic marriages), an excuse not to talk things out and express what's in mind and on their hearts.
Conversations, if abiding all the rules and guidelines according to Tannen, will become manipulative. Everything becomes taboo in the household and people will only feel more isolated. People misunderstand others (in many occasions), because of unspoken bitterness, frustration, and shameful thoughts that don't want to be confronted. They let out frustrated emotions and blow out no small thing like "Where do you want to go dinner?" or some silly little argument that later on becomes fights. People will NOT be able to speak from the heart until they make a decision to be vulnerable and open. Think about why people feel frustrated - because they cannot be completely open about their lives. They are afraid to be confronted, challenged, and even asked how they are doing.
Misunderstanding might play a little part, but you cannot solve relationship problem solely by casting the misunderstanding. Deal with deceit and fear in heart.