One of the most lucid, illuminating works in the field of communication and rhetoric, this work by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., uncovers overarching patterns in the way men and women speak.

Men and women prioritize different outcomes in communication that reflect on their evolutionary imperatives. Unfortunately, in  a male-driven culture these habits are routinely judged as “normal” for men and “different” for women. And as Tannen notes, “it is only a short step–maybe an inevitable one–from “different” to “worse.”

Yet Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, does not write with an axe to grind. Her uncompromising, matter-of-fact prose, enhanced by a litany of examples, is refreshingly lacking presumption in a field (science) rife with alienating language. This is a down-to-Earth subject that everyone can relate to.

The primary points of interest are:

  • Men and women have different but equally valid conversational styles
  • Talk between men and women is cross-cultural communication
  • Men dominating status in society does not sufficiently explain the differences in genderlect
  • Women are easily prejudiced against via their communication style: women who talk like men are judged harshly, while women who talk like women are often assumed to be submissive and manipulative