Do men know that women can speak without using their mouth? If they do not, then they should know that women do what they do not. According to Tannen, a professor of linguistics, women differ from men in the way they communicate (187). This paper will present the reasons that make me agree with Tannen’s position concerning the communication of men and women.
There are different expectations in the communication between men and women. According to Tannen, women feel, “After all this time, you should know what I want without my telling you.” On the other hand, men feel “After all this time, we should be able to tell each other what we want” (187). Tannen further indicates that communication involves “balancing conflicting needs for involvement and independence” (186). Both women and men have these needs. However, women have a strong need for involvement while men have a strong need for independence (Tannen 186).
A woman can communicate without her saying a word (Tannen 186). A man cannot do that. This is because women can use metamessages to pass on a message. According to Tannen, metamessages refer to passing on messages without the explicit use of words (186). This means that a woman can use mannerisms to communicate that she does not like a suggestion. For instance, the wife will expect her husband to understand that she does not enjoy the meal by observing her. On the other hand, the husband expects the wife to use words to say that the meal is unpleasant. If the wife does not speak, then it may be hard for the husband to decipher her feelings. This may present a conflict because of the conflicting presumptions.
The difference in the way women and men communicate is also evident in their complaints (Tannen 192). Most women complain that their husbands do not talk or listen to them anymore. On the contrary, most men do not give the same complaints. This is significant because the communication process involves two entities. As a result, men too should be complaining that their wives do not talk or listen to them. The discrepancy results from the different expectations between men and women. There is a difference in the way the two genders view talk (Tannen 192). A common stereotype is “the strong, silent man”. However, Tannen argues that women may want a silent man as a lover but not as a husband (192). The wife may see a husband’s silence as “a brick wall against which she is hanging herself.” This means that women attach emotional meaning to talking. They take talking not only as a way of verbal communication, but also as an expression of love. Contrary, most men think that talking has nothing to do with expressing emotions or love (Tannen 193).
Besides, there is a difference in the way men and women report experiences. “When women talk about what seems appealing to them, their conversations often include reports and conversations” (Tannen 194). Women use tone, timing, intonation and wording to recreate and dramatize the experience they are reporting. On the other hand, men tend to summarize the story. Men often forget the details of the conversation and just communicate the purpose. This difference defines the communication of men and women.
It is evident that there are differences in the way men and women communicate. Whereas women favor involving communication, men favor independent communication. Besides, women can use metamessages to communicate while men cannot. The complaints concerning communication vary with gender. There are also differences in the way men and women report experiences. This means that men and women should strive to understand each other’s way of communication in order to live harmoniously.