How To Be a Friend: Thoughts

Posted in Childrens, Picture Books, Psychology at 2:02 am by Rosepixie

This is actually a really good book about friendship and related issues for really young kids. It discusses a wide range of topics intelligently and simply with clear, simple illustrations. The examples include all types of children (even a number of handicapped ones) and speaks very respectfully of childhood friendship issues. Even the endpapers are helpful with kid suggestions for how to be and not be a friend! This is simply a wonderfully done book and I’m extremely impressed!


You Just Don’t Understand: Eleventh Post (Final Thoughts)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 6:13 am by web

Tannen’s afterward was interesting. Not only did she clarify and amend some of what she had said in the book, but she also addressed some of her own frustrations with responses to the book that she received. I found her response to the question “do these patterns arise through nature or nurture?” particularly interesting. It is a popular question and most of the people who ask the question believe that they already know the answer. Tannen’s response is that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we see that patterns and work to understand them. Where they come from is irrelevant. What matters is that they exist.

You Just Don’t Understand: Tenth Post (Nature)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 6:05 am by web

Tannen is right that people need to work to understand each other better, but that is much easier said than done. Most people believe that their way is the obvious, natural way but I am increasingly convinced that there is no such thing. I do think that a better understanding of other ways would help a lot.

You Just Don’t Understand: Ninth Post (Good English)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 5:57 am by web

What I noticed the most about the eight conversations from the study that Tannen discusses is that the majority of the subjects fail to speak very good English. Their speech is a mish-mash of broken phrases, unfinished sentences, “um”s, “you know”s and unnecessary words. Many of the children intone everything as a question, whether they are asking one or not. Now, my English is far from perfect in conversation, but I would like to think that I generally do better than that!

You Just Don’t Understand: Eighth Post (Society/Politics)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 5:39 am by web

Tannen’s discussions of women’s real disadvantages in conversation are interesting, but I was particularly fascinated by a cultural comparison that she made. She pointed out that American society is very egalitarian. We just don’t take hierarchy that seriously. We like to think of our leaders as ‘regular people’ and believe that anyone can reach the top, which also implies that those who reach the top are no better than anyone else. It is not so in other places. Her example is Greece, but the first thing that I thought of was Chile. I’ve been wondering how a country that is so very gender-focused and really quite sexist could have elected a woman president when there is absolutely no evidence that the United States could do that any time soon. I think that a lot of it is the egalitarian nature that Tannen discusses. Because we have little ingrained respect for hierarchy, our cultural bias of women being less qualified as leaders is able to kick in much easier. We don’t see a person as their office, we see them as a person – a man or a woman. The new president of Chile wasn’t just a woman, she was a minister of defense. She was already high in a hierarchy. I’m certain that her sex did make a difference to some voters, but her position held far more real weight. It is nearly impossible for someone with low hierarchical standing to be elected to much in many places, but not so much here (or so we like to think, anyway). In our country it’s impossible to be elected if you are seen as wanting in any major moral or linguistically visible way, which is why a woman can’t be president and why adultery is a worse offense than breaking actual constitutional laws in a sitting president. It’s an intriguing dilemma. We value our egalitarian society, but it may be exactly what is hurting us in many ways. I wish that I had the faintest idea what to do about it, but I don’t.

You Just Don’t Understand: Seventh Post (Interruption)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 5:34 am by web

I’m not sure about interruption. Tannen seems to be saying that it depends more on the intention behind the interruption than how it sounds. It’s interesting, but hard to use in practice.


You Just Don’t Understand: Sixth Post (Conflict)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 7:04 pm by web

The discussion of conflict and intimacy was really interesting to me. I see conflict and arguments as one of the most fascinating parts of intimate relationships. For me, arguments don’t necessarily mean fights. Often they are sparked by genuine differences of opinion where each party is truly attempting to convince the other of the correctness of their view, but not always. Almost as often (perhaps even more often) for me arguing is a way of exploring an idea for better understanding. This can only be done if both parties trust and respect each other. I sometimes will take the opposite view of something, even if it is not my view, to better understand what someone thinks or believes. Not only does this promote my own understanding, but it often also gives me a good idea of how deep or well thought out a conviction is. I find this kind of argument intellectually stimulating. I also almost always feel closer to the person that I’ve argued with at the end of the discussion. According to Tannen, this is a very male way of viewing conflict. She claims that most women avoid arguments and often fear them, but men use them for bonding. In my experience, her statement is generally true, but for some reason I break this pattern. I think that I learned at least some of this attitude towards conflict from my father, but it sounds like my maternal grandfather would have appreciated it too. I have no real explanation for it as I’ve never really thought about it that much. This view of conflict and intimate relationships never seemed odd to me. I’m certainly going to pay more attention to it for a while! Hopefully I will learn something useful from it.

You Just Don’t Understand: Fifth Post (Folk Tale)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 6:49 pm by web

Tannen spends a great deal of time in this study talking about listening. It kept reminding me of a folk tale that I know about a boy who climbs a hill to discover how the wise man who lives there got to be so wise. The man declines to explain, but invites the boy to live with him for a while and watch him. The boy agrees, assuming that he will learn how to be wise from the man. Many people come to the old man for advice. The man feeds each person homemade bread, shares tea with them, and listens to their problems. He says almost nothing, but each person leaves praising his wisdom and thanking him for helping them. The boy is baffled by the whole thing and becomes convinced that he is missing some magic that the old man performs for his visitors. One day the old man is too ill to leave his bed when a woman comes to call. He encourages the boy to serve the woman bread and tea and listen to her. The boy does so and finds himself saying little as the woman discusses her problems. The woman talks her way to her own solution and thanks him, praising his wisdom. The boy finally realizes that the old man is not praised for his wisdom because he says wise things or because he solves people’s problems, but because he makes them comfortable and listens as they work out their own problems. In this story the position of listener is far from subordinate. In fact, the man is so greatly respected because he is such a good listener. So how is it that listening can be seen in such radically different ways? The act itself is the same, so why is the perception so different? Maybe we should learn as a community to see listening more the way the story does and less as a bad thing. I wonder what Dr. Tannen would think of this story?


You Just Don’t Understand: Fourth Post (Understanding)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 5:08 pm by web

I really like that Tannen is not asking, or even suggesting, that people should change the way they talk to each other. She encourages people to understand the way that each other views conversation. She just wants people to see that their way is not more “right” than any other way. I wish that more people saw it that way.


You Just Don’t Understand: Third Post (Imagination)

Posted in Linguistics, Psychology at 4:53 am by web

Near the end of the last chapter there was a quote from a woman saying that a particular event was one of those moments when she knew that she hadn’t imagined her husband because he had thought in a way that she completely didn’t understand. I found this interesting because of the implication that she wonders if she has imagined her husband from time to time. Now, I’ve done that too, but I rarely think much about it. It could be a really interesting concept for a story. What if someone had imagined their spouse? It could be an interesting idea to play with.

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