The Difference Approach, Deborah Tannen
Professor Deborah Tannen has summarised her book ‘You Just Don't Understand’ in which she represents male and female language use in a series of six contrasts.
1. Status versus support
Men grow up in a world in which conversation is competitive - they seek to achieve the upper hand or to prevent others from dominating them. For women, however, talking is often a way to gain confirmation and support for their ideas. Men see the world as a place where people try to gain status and keep it.
2. Independence versus intimacy
Women often think in terms of closeness and support, and struggle to preserve intimacy. Men, concerned with status, tend to focus more on independence. These traits can lead women and men to starkly different views of the same situation. Professor Tannen gives the example of a woman who would check with her husband before inviting a guest to stay - because she likes telling friends that she has to check with him. The man, meanwhile, invites a friend without asking his wife first, because to tell the friend he must check amounts to a loss of status.