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

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

by Deborah Tannen


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That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships by Deborah Tannen

“Tannen combines a novelist’s ear for the way people speak with a rare power of original analysis....Fascinating.”
—Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and The Mind’s Eye

In That’s Not What I Meant!, Deborah Tannen, renowned communication expert and author of the New York Times bestsellers You’re Wearing THAT? and You Just Don’t Understand, explores how conversational styles can make or break interpersonal relationships at home, at work, or at play. Fans of her books and the healthily curious reader interested in popular psychology, feminism, linguistics, or social sciences will be fascinated by Tannen’s remarkable insights into unintentional conversational confusion.  That’s Not What I Meant! is an essential guide to recognizing and adjusting what we say and how we are saying it in order to strengthen or save a relationship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062062994
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 189,306
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

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.


Washington, D.C. metro area

Date of Birth:

June 7, 1945

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York


B.A., Harpur College, 1966, Wayne State University, 1970; M.A. in Linguistics, UC Berkeley, 1976; Ph.D., 1979

Table of Contents



I Linguistics And Conversational Style 15

1 The Problem Is The Process 17

2 The Workings Of Conversational Style 29

3 Conversational Signals And Devices 45

Part I Conversational Signals 47

Part II Conversational Devices At Work 54

II Conversational Strategies 63

4 Why We Don't Say What We Mean 65

Part I Why We Won't Say What We Mean 66

Part II Why We Can't Say What We Mean 71

5 Framing And Reframing 82

6 Power And Solidarity 101

III Talking At Home: Conversational Style in Close Relationships 119

7 Why Things Get Worse 121

8 Talk In The Intimate Relationship: His And Hers 133

9 The Intimate Critic 152

IV What You Can And Can't Do With Conversational Style 175

10 Talking About Ways Of Talking 177

Notes 201

Bibliography 206

Index 209

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That's Not What I Meant! 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
That's Not What I Meant! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships. Deborah Tannen explains how something very small we said can turn a whole conversation upside down, bringing the opposite result of what we expected. Be it between friends, lovers, or even diplomatic ambassadors, she shows how the way we talk, anything from the tone we say a word to a single finger's gesture can change completely the meaning of our talk, and gives advice and suggestions on how to talk better and have more successful communication with everyone around us. What Tannen does in this book is show how some of the common communication differences between men and women in relationships have their basis in fundamental differences in the way men and women perceive each other and relationships in general. And furthermore, that these fundamental differences, often hidden below the surface, can have profound, and often negative, effects on all kinds of relationships throughout a person's life, unless they are brought into the light of day. In effect, what Tannen is trying to do is to get people to be more aware of how they habitually communicate, the possible reasons why they communicate in those ways, and how the things they say and do may affect others. I strongly recommend this book for both men and women in ongoing close relationships. Once you have read it, you will never see communication in your relationships in quite the same way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago