ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers by Deborah Tannen, an Analysis on Gender-based Communication

Updated on November 10, 2011
lee custodio profile image

Lee is a freelance researcher and writer for six years. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Management

In Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers, Deborah Tannen discussed the importance of communication in terms of making or breaking a relationship between couples. It explored in detail how most often than not, it is these failed attempts in communicating with one another that couples find themselves in shaky ground. By tracing the roots and the underlying causes of these differences, couples, or both men and women, are given insights as to how various cultural and personal experiences work dynamically to create these differences. Moreover, it only through the understanding of these differences that effective communication between opposite sexes could truly be achieved (Tannen). Effective communication is a vital lifeline of a successful relationship between a man and a woman. This paper would try to explore the social dynamics of communication as a culturally defined skill based on personal experiences and gender-based expectations of the society within the context of intimate relationship through compare and contrast analysis and how the understanding of these differences could help both men and women to communicate more effectively.

Personal Experiences

Tannen argued that the difference in communication perspective, style, and approach between men and women begin during the early stages of their personal experiences in life. Culture in communication would be based and molded by the interaction of the gender with other people. For case in point, girls would tend to play in close-knit circle where trusts in relationship are highly valued reinforced by loyalty and shared secrets. For an existing member of the social group, this meant security and stability in terms of built relationship among playmates. However, for an outsider trying to get in the group is more difficult as the outsider would have to first gain the trust and confidence of the members of the social group. Once done, the former outsider would tend to enjoy an equal status among other members. And for those who break the social group wherein trust is violated, it will be more than difficult to enter back and regain the trust of the peers as compared to an outsider trying to make her way into the circle.

In this case, the emphasis on communication is building relationship. Communication among females is not merely a direct way of sending and or receiving messages rather, envelops to which relationships could be built. Communication is not merely a talk exercise but a form of building relationship, ergo the bond between girls are reinforced.

As compared to boys, communication is perceived as something that is more of a status-building endeavor rather than relationship building. Boys would often associate communication as something that would build their status. Thus, when a boy would tell an interesting story, more often than not someone else have to top it. If that can’t be done, the boy often times get the prestige and status. And because communication is hinge on status building rather than relationship, it is easier for boys to join social groups and accept new members of the circle. However, because the membership on the group is not based on built relationship, there is unequal social status. Unless a boy could prove his worth, then he is often times at the bottom of the pack.

In the case of boys, the emphasis on communication is developed in terms of direct messages—i.e. comparing stories and experiences. There are no underlying meanings, or social norm attached but an actual talk of something worth telling.

These two different approaches on personal experiences goes way back to childhood enculturation. The difference in past experiences of both man and woman defined their perception and attitude towards communication early on in life. These perceptions are built and reinforced through time that results to differences in perceiving communication which becomes culturally defined.

Gender-Based Expectations

The other important point that Tannen made in understanding the male-female interpretation in communicating is geared on gender-based expectations. This meant that the dichotomy between gender-based norms defined the approaches they have towards communication.

For women, this meant that they find meaning through the implied message guised under what is being communicated. This process of being indirect but conveying negotiated agreement is termed by Tannen as Meta messages. Understanding Meta messages is a by-product of the culture of communication employed by women since they were little girls. Ergo, gender played a huge part among women in knowing, understanding, analyzing, and interpreting the ‘hidden’ or indirect messages within the context of the message being communicated. For case in point, women would bond together to help a friend who just broke up with her boyfriend because they knew that the Meta message behind consoling the broken-hearted friend meant reinforcing the personal relationship and that there is a need for the friend to have assurance that the break-up is not her loss, the boyfriend was a jerk, etc. The Meta message here is that the broken hearted friend needs to find assurance that she is an adequate women and that she was not at fault of the fall in the relationship.

For men, communication finds its meaning in the overt or direct message being communicated rather than over analyzing each messages being communicated. This culture is again based on the social norm experienced during childhood—that male does not necessarily find communication as way in building relationship and perceived it as something more direct. After all, narrating a story for status claim does not need much detail or underlying message for the man (or boy) to build his reputation on. In using the same example as stated above, men would seldom ‘dissect’ and analyze the fall of a relationship or a break-up with a woman. It is most likely that men would just talk about the overt reasons for the break up and leave it at that without going much further into the details and analyzing the psyche or the motives behind each particular scenario that might have lead to the break up.

Meta Messages and Direct Messages

Now, the misunderstanding in terms of communication ensues when the Meta messages and direct messages are clashed together in a conversation. Because women are hard-wired in a different way, and men on the other hand tend to have aversion to complicating things and love for the simple and logical, clashing perspectives when not addressed correctly could lead to miscommunication that could build up to have dire consequences in a relationship.

For instance, a woman seeking to have a conversation with her husband who’s watching television, would probably sit with him in the couch, and lean her head and ask casually what he is watching, who is winning, etc. Her Meta message is that she wants her presence known to the husband so that he could direct his attention towards her and not the television. The husband who was not paying attention to the indirect message being communicated would only pay attention to the overt message being communicated and would probably simply answer her question without paying special attention to her under the understanding that she is also interested on what he is watching. The wife feels hurt because she felt neglected or uninterested and storms out of the room. The husband is then left watching the television thinking that his wife was not that interested in the movie or program.

In the given example, interpreting meaning at different messages created conflict—at least in the part of the women who felt betrayed or hurt by her husband’s callousness to her needs. The husband who was not paying attention did not even realize that the simple exchanges have caused severe damage to their relationship. It is these small and simple encounters piled up together that more often than not lead to the decay of a relationship. The break-down in communication only tends to worsen these small misunderstanding until there is nothing left but to be separated since the relationship is no longer working for both of them.

Conclusion

The need to understand the differences in communication is vital for an efficient communication and quality of an intimate relationship. Because communication is vital, understanding the differences between the male-perception and female-perception with regards to communication is crucial to lessen the chances of miscommunication. Learning to decipher when a man is being direct or when a woman is sending Meta messages could also improve the quality of the relationship because this would assure that the needs of both parties are being communicated effectively.

Works Cited

Tannen, Deborah. Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers. 31 March 2006. 4 October 2010 <http://and-if-not.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_archive.html>.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lee custodio profile image
      Author

      lee custodio 7 years ago

      thank you powerpoe1 for your comment/ hub. :) glad you were able to relate your life experience. its quite inspiring for us writers when people could relate to topics that we write.

    • Powerpoe1 profile image

      Powerpoe1 7 years ago

      Voted Up & Rated Useful~

      Gender-based Perspective on Communication and its Role in Relationships~ In my opinion, this is a great topic talking about gender-based perspectives, when dating either a boyfriend or marrying your soulmate. Somethings are not discussed in the relationship prior to marriage or shacking. It's all about the physical attraction,fun and games. The big picture, financial security. Once, the romance and the physical attraction loses its sizzle. The big picture becomes quite clear. I once was in a situation of shacking or engaged to become married and later realized our life views did not connect. I opened my business which we discussed before doing so and did not get the co-operation or help needed by my partner. He was a very kind individual and loved to help others, but did not put forth the effort to help me and when he did his attitude sucked! In relationships, discuss and talk about the future. I once met with an insurance agent for the business and talked about other insurance options. Life Insurance-I metioned this to my partner and he suggested are you trying to put a hit out on me! Priceless Or Stupid? Sorry, that my comment resulted in a hub. ;D

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)