168. Everyday Conversations: How Conversational Style Impacts Relationships with Deborah Tannen

A great wizard once said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” Humans are social animals who thrive on effective communication. However, each of us has a different communication style, and sometimes, differences in those communication styles inflict injury. In today’s world, where communication looks very different than it used to, understanding differences in communication styles and learning to remedy word-inflicted wounds is of utmost importance. In this timely episode, Dr. Deborah Tannen talks with Jill about how communication styles affect our everyday relationships. Join us to learn more on the ‘best’ way to talk in different contexts, gender differences in communication styles, saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and much more!

Listen and Learn:

  • Dr. Tannen’s definition of conversational style
  • Why communication style is important in various domains including intimate relationships, workplace relations, and difficult conversations 
  • Saying what you mean and meaning what you say
  • Jill and Dr. Tannen’s account of gender differences in communication styles
  • Dr. Tannen’s wisdom on the ‘best way to talk’
  • What a double bind is and how it affects women 
  • Questions and phrases you can use to improve your communication style right now
  • How different communication platforms change the intent of your words


About Dr. Deborah Tannen

Dr. Tannen is a University Professor and Professor Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of many books and articles about how the language of everyday conversation affects relationships. She is best known as the author of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, a book that has brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness as a New York Times best seller. Her collected works include eight books for general audiences as well as sixteen books and over one hundred articles for scholarly audiences

Dr. Tannen is one of only six in Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences who hold the distinguished rank of University Professor. She has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University and spent a term in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She has twice been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in Palo Alto, California. The recipient of five honorary doctorates, she is a member of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation Board of Directors. Read her recent essays in The New York Times and The Forward or view a full list of her articles for general audiences here. To learn more about what Dr. Tannen is up to, visit her website at

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Episode 168