Sex, Lies and Conversation Article - Essay Example

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In this paper, I will discuss the article “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” by Deborah Tannen. Specifically, I will focus on differences in how males and females support conversations. In particular, I will explore the differences in making eye contact, topic changes, handling problems, and ways of listening…
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Sex, Lies and Conversation Article
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Download file to see previous pages Particularly, girls and women usually face each other in a direct manner, anchoring their eyes on the interlocutor’s face. Unlike women, man and boys, regardless of age, tend to sit at angles to each other. Moreover, they typically do not fix on each other’s eyes but rather look elsewhere around. Only periodically do they glance at their interlocutors. At the same time, as Tannen observes, males are evidently attuned to each other, which becomes clear as one sees their echoing movements. Misunderstandings arise because women often think that if men do not face them directly or face away, they do not listen or are unwilling to talk. For instance, one girl found herself really frustrated once she started talking to her boyfriend. Whenever she told him she would like to talk, he would just lie down on the room’s floor, put his hands over the face, close his eyes, and listen to her while staying in such position. For him, that obviously meant that he was super concentrated as normally he would rather look around his room and could be distracted easily. As he lied down on and closed his eyes, he was able to follow the conversation in a more effective manner (Tannen). Another example is a conversation observed by Tannen between two boys in the 10th grade. The boys were sharing their problems. Their position was as follows: sprawled across chairs, keeping their bodies parallel, looking straight ahead and rarely glancing at each other, the boys “looked as if they were riding in a car, staring out the windshield” (Tannen). Of course, it is hard to imagine two girls sharing about their problems and feelings in a similar physical position. Next, there is a difference in how men and women focus on topics while talking. While for men it is typical to change topics frequently, women like to talk a lot about one topic. Tannen observed that while the second grade girls were telling each other stories about people they were familiar with, boys of this age jumped from one topic to another: teased each other, spotted things in the room, told jokes, and talked about finding a game to play. Similarly, the girls in the sixth grade would talk at length about some problem (a mutual friend, for example), whereas boys at this age talked about as many as 55 topics, different from each other and each lasting just for a few turns. As a result, for women it is unnatural to switch topics in a conversation and they think men do not listen if they tend to change topics. Moreover, there is a clear difference as to how men and women perceive the role of talk. For a male, a talk is a means of showing his independence and maintaining his status, since men’s perception of the world is hierarchical. Men feel as if they were on guard to protect their statuses and to prevent being pushed around or pushed down. Tannen writes that for a man a talk is a way to establish a position in a group so that the one who is talking is perceived as the one who has power. On the contrary, women perceive talk as a way to form and maintain intimate relationships and closeness. Specifically, a conversation is like a cornerstone of friendly relationship for women. It is an instrument to keep close and see that you are loved. Therefore, men feel challenged to talk at public more than women. At the same time, women prefer to talk more at home where they feel relaxed, free from fear of being misunderstood, pushed away, sounding offensive ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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