Talking from 9 to 5: How Women's and Men's Conversational Styles Affect Who Gets Heard, Who Gets Credit, and What Gets Done at Work

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You say something at a meeting, it is ignored, then someone else says the same thing and everyone embraces it as a marvelous idea. You devote yourself to a project, but don't get credit for the results. You work around the clock to avoid a crisis, but your efforts are not recognized because no one notices a crisis that never occurs. You give what you think are clear instructions, but the job is not done, or is done wrong. Sometimes it seems you are not getting heard, not getting credit for your efforts, not ...
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Overview

You say something at a meeting, it is ignored, then someone else says the same thing and everyone embraces it as a marvelous idea. You devote yourself to a project, but don't get credit for the results. You work around the clock to avoid a crisis, but your efforts are not recognized because no one notices a crisis that never occurs. You give what you think are clear instructions, but the job is not done, or is done wrong. Sometimes it seems you are not getting heard, not getting credit for your efforts, not getting ahead as fast as you should. Many of us spend more of our lives at work than we do at home, yet while we choose our life-partners and friends, at work we are thrown together with people we did not choose, some of whom we don't understand and may not even like. In Talking from 9 to 5, Deborah Tannen brings to the workplace the same compelling voice, keen eye, and deep insight that made That's Not What I Meant! and You Just Don't Understand best-selling classics. Here, she offers powerful new ways of understanding what happens in the workplace, ranging from the simplest exchanges to the complex contemporary issues of the glass ceiling and sexual harassment. Work is a special world because as we talk to get our jobs done, we are also being evaluated. How we get others to do what we want, and how we accept or avoid responsibility for mistakes, display or challenge authority, reveal or conceal what we don't know - all affect how we are regarded and rewarded. Individuals in positions of authority are judged by how they enact that authority. This poses a particular challenge for women, since the ways that women are expected to talk are at odds with our usual images of authority. Women at work often have ways of creating authority that can be misinterpreted as a lack of confidence or even competence. Tannen maintains that no one style of speaking is superior. She does not tell women to speak like men or men to speak like women. Instead, she explains a variet

The bestselling author of You Just Don't Understand and That's Not What I Meant enters the realm of the workplace and shows readers how they are too often foreigners to each other. Tannen maintains that there is no one style of speaking that is superior in all situations, fully recognizing that differences in gender, ethnicity, geography, class, and personality effect communication in the workplace.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This wise and widely informative book fulfills its promise to do for the workplace what Tannen's You Just Don't Understand has done for the home front-heighten the reader's perception of the ways in which gender, power structures and cultural constraints affect communication. Basing her discussion on extensive interviews with workers, managers and executives at a range of businesses, Tannen identifies-and decodes-various conversational ``rituals.'' For example, women tend to use the words ``I'm sorry'' as an ``expression of understanding-and caring''; but men generally interpret ``I'm sorry'' as an acceptance of blame. Tannen demonstrates that women, conditioned in childhood not to sound too self-confident, are likely to issue orders or implement plans indirectly and therefore don't receive full recognition for their work; men, conditioned not to sound uncertain, may perceive requests for feedback as an admission of weakness. Offering clear explanations of various conversational ``styles,'' Tannen passes few judgments; rather, she offers readers a wider variety of strategies to express themselves. Filled with gracefully analyzed examples of job-related conversations, every page delivers a shock of recognition. Major ad/promo; author tour. Oct.
Library Journal
Tannen (You Just Don't Understand, Morrow, 1990) describes differences in men's and women's public communication as found within the business setting. These differences appear to influence actual perceptions of worker skills and abilities. For example, women say "I'm sorry" without actually apologizing and tend to use an indirect manner of speech. These styles make women appear less confident, competent, and professional. However, women who learn to speak like men are accused of being aggressive and unfeminine. Written for the general reader, Tannen's work is entertaining and filled with illustrative conversations. It raises many issues of concern to working women, from knocking against the glass ceiling to dealing with sexual harassment. Unfortunately, Tannen's research has not yet suggested any linguistic solutions. Highly recommended for general public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/94.]-Kathy Shimpock-Vieweg, O'Connor Cavanagh Lib., Phoenix
David Rouse
Georgetown University professor Tannen specializes in the seemingly arcane field of sociolinguistics, yet two of her books have been wildly successful best-sellers: "That's Not What I Meant: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Your Relations with Others" (1986) and "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation" (1990). This second title sold more than quarter of a million copies in hardcover and well over one million in paperback, and it lasted for more than two years on the "New York Times"' best-seller lists. Her new book is meant as the third in this series of investigations into what we say and how we say it and how this affects our ability to be understood and to get along with others. Here Tannen considers conversations, both informal and formal, in the workplace. She is most interested in gender differences in conversational style but considers age, class, ethnic, and geographical distinctions as well, while arguing that to be successful, we must not adopt or discount other styles, but rather, make an effort to understand and to learn from them.
From Barnes & Noble
Examining communication in office settings, this book explores the implications of hierarchical relations and how conversational style differences are influenced by such factors as gender, ethnicity, geography, class, & personality. The author presents information that will have a dramatic impact on those who are struggling with co-workers, jobs, & companies, and will help individuals as well as companies thrive in a working world made up of increasingly diverse work forces & ever more competitive markets. Filled with real-life examples of speaking styles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688112431
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Tannen
Ever since she published her breakthrough book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Deborah Tannen has established herself as a foremost expert on the art of communication throughout the world. With the publication of You’re Wearing That?, Tannen takes on one of the most complex relationships in the family structure.

Biography

In 2001, Deborah Tannen published a book that explored the eternally complex relationship between men and women, specifically why communication can be so darn difficult between the sexes. You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation clearly struck a chord with its readers, spending nearly four years on the New York Times bestseller list (holding the No. 1 spot for eight weeks) and having been translated into 29 languages. Bolstered by Tannen's extensive experience as a linguist, You Just Don't Understand has played a significant role in improving relations between men and women throughout the world.

Tannen followed her breakthrough work with several others that have tackled the difficulties in improving communication on the job (Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work), the source of argumentativeness (The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words), and general disagreements within families (I Only Say This Because I Love You). Now Tannen is turning her attention to improving communications between two groups that share one of the most complicated relationships of all: mothers and daughters.

You're Wearing That?: Understanding Daughters and Mothers in Conversation is yet another ambitious attempt to examine, understand, and resolve the long-standing communication difficulties that so often plague families. Tannen delineated the nature of the particularly thorny interactions between mothers and daughters in an article she recently wrote for The Washington Post. In her article, Tannen stated that "there is a special intensity to the mother-daughter relationship because talk -- particularly talk about personal topics -- plays a larger and more complex role in girls' and women's social lives than in boys' and men's. For girls and women, talk is the glue that holds a relationship together -- and the explosive that can blow it apart. That's why you can think you're having a perfectly amiable chat, then suddenly find yourself wounded by the shrapnel from an exploded conversation."

You're Wearing That? is her attempt to defuse such potential explosiveness, to get to the root of why daughters and mothers so often hit walls when relating to one another. Tannen's own strained relationship with her ailing mother was part of the impetus that caused her to begin asking the questions that this insightful book strives to answer. Along the way, she explored not only her own relationship with her mother but those of many others, as well. "I interviewed dozens of women of varied geographic, racial and cultural backgrounds," she explained in her article. "I had informal conversations or e-mail exchanges with countless others. The complaint I heard most often from daughters was, ‘My mother is always criticizing me.' The corresponding complaint from mothers was, ‘I can't open my mouth. She takes everything as criticism.' Both are right, but each sees only her perspective."

Once again, Tannen has proven her skills as a great communicator, and has penned another instant classic in the field of self-improvement. You're Wearing That? has already achieved bestseller status and inspired Miriam Wolf of the San Francisco Chronicle to call it "a book any mother would be proud her daughter wrote." Tannen should surely be proud that she has made such a significant and positive impact on those who have read her work.

Good To Know

Make no mistake: Deborah Tannen is not just another self-help guru. She has published an impressive body of work that includes 20 books and over 100 articles. She is also the recipient of five honorary doctorates.

Tannen may be most famous for her linguistics studies, but she has also published short stories, poems, personal essays, and plays. In fact, her first play, An Act of Devotion, was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Short Plays: 1993-1994.

The sage relationship advice that Tannen has imparted is not limited to the printed page. She has also lectured all over the world, once addressing an audience of U.S. senators and their spouses.

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Tannen:

"I lived in Greece for several years; I speak Greek and consider Greece my second home. The first book I ever wrote was literary criticism about a modern Greek writer, Lilika Nakou."

"One of the most exciting experiences I have ever had was seeing a play I wrote produced by Horizons Theater in Washington, D.C. Another was having my play An Act of Devotion accepted and published in Best American Short Plays 1993-1994."

"I didn't start grad school in linguistics until I was 30. When I graduated from college, I had no ambitions other than to travel and not to go grad school. I worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Manhattan, lived with my parents in Brooklyn, and saved my money to go to Europe on a one-way ticket. My plan was to go around the world. But I got only as far as Greece, where I got a job teaching English. It was through teaching English as a second language that I first became aware of linguistics."

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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C. metro area
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 7, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Harpur College, 1966, Wayne State University, 1970; M.A. in Linguistics, UC Berkeley, 1976; Ph.D., 1979

Table of Contents

Preface 11
A Note on Notes and Transcription 19
1 Women and Men Talking on the Job 21
2 "I'm Sorry, I'm Not Apologizing": Conversational Rituals 43
3 "Why Don't You Say What You Mean?": Indirectness at Work 78
4 Marked: Women in the Workplace 107
5 The Glass Ceiling 132
6 "She's the Boss": Women and Authority 160
7 Talking Up Close: Status and Connection 204
8 What's Sex Got to Do with It? 242
9 Who Gets Heard?: Talking at Meetings 276
Afterword 311
Notes 319
References 345
Index 361
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2006

    An eye-opening read that men and women alike can relate to!

    Talking from 9 to 5 truly displays many real-life examples of how men and women differ in a variety of ways, and how being flexible and aware of conversational styles will definitely help realtions with co-workers and life in general at the workplace.

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