Episode 73: Deborah Tannen – Shifting to Deeper Dialogue and Understanding Between the Sexes
“Duncan Campbell has just been a terrific conversationalist and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to enjoy Living Dialogues. It’s a privilege. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve had a lot of interviews, but this one has been very special.” – Deborah Tannen, author of New York Times best-seller You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
“For human evolution to continue, the conversation must deepen.” – Margaret Mead
In this dialogue with internationally-acclaimed scholar and author Deborah Tannen, we converse about the kind of fresh dialogue we can generate between the sexes as we all learn to more deeply observe and bring together “masculine speak” and “feminine speak”. As we understand and appreciate our different communication styles and influences, we have in essence the experience of learning another language to enter together the mystery of our otherness and celebrate Vive La Difference!
With the 2008 U.S. elections over we can turn our attention to the various personal dialogues we can cultivate “in building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the reaching out and cooperative spirit required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place”. (For more, including information on the Engaged Elder Dialogue Series on my website www.livingdialogues.com, click on Episode Detail to the left above and go to Transcript section.)
“Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
Contact me if you like at www.livingdialogues.com. Visit my blog at Duncan.personallifemedia.com.
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“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, I featured a special series of dialogues with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. 2008 elections. Those dialogues can be listened to separately on this site or gathered as a series on my website www.livingdialogues.com under the collective title “Engaged Elder Dialogues”. They address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In all my Living Dialogues I talk in various ways about the need to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative solutions together, to engage our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
Other programs you will find of interest on these themes are Dialogue 28 with Michael Dowd, Dialogue 57 with Sobonfu Some, Dialogue 52 with Angeles Arrien, Dialogue 70 with Lester Brown, and Dialogue 69 with Barbara Marx Hubbard. Also you may wish to listen to Dialogue 58 with Ted Sorensen, counselor and co-visionary with John F. Kennedy, Dialogue 59 with Robert Thurman on a potential paradigm-shifting environmental and political partnership between the Dalai Lama and China, and Dialogue 61 with David Boren on our seeing the need for new energy and transpartisanship.
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The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the numerous (unsolicited) appreciations received from you.
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Deborah Tannen: I’m Deborah Tannen, known for the book “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation,” which I’ve just been talking to my delight on the show, “Living Dialogues.” Duncan Campbell has just been a terrific conversationalist and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to enjoy “Living Dialogues.” It’s a privilege. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve had a lot of interviews, but this has been very special.
Duncan Campbell: Well thank you, thank you very much, Deborah.
From time in memorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of Western visionaries such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participative dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a dia-flow of logos meaning, beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in living dialogues.
Welcome to “Living Dialogues.” I’m your host, Duncan Campbell, and I’m delighted to have as my guest, Deborah Tannen, someone whose work I’ve been familiar with for many years. Particularly when I first came across it was when she wrote her international bestseller, “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.” Deborah Tannen has written a number of bestselling books since then and she is a member of the Linguistics Faculty at Georgetown University, where she is only one of two in the College of Arts and Sciences who hold the distinguished rank of University Professor.
As mentioned, her book “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation” has sold more than two million copies and has been translated into 29 languages. It was on the New York Times bestselling list for more than three years including eight months as number one. It was also on bestseller lists in Brazil, Canada, England, Holland, Germany, and Hong Kong.
This is the book that brought gender differences and communication style to the forefront of public awareness. Among her other books, “Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work,” was another New York Times business bestseller. “The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words” won the Common Ground Book Award and “I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You're All Adults” won a Books for Better Life Award. “You’re Wearing That?” her book about conversations between mothers and daughters is her 20th book.
She’s a frequent guest on television and radio, she’s an internationally recognized scholar who has received numerous awards, she holds a PhD from The University of California at Berkeley as well as five honorary Doctorates, she was a fellow at The Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University following a term in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and in addition to her linguistic research and writing, Deborah Tannen has published poetry, short stories, and personal essays, as well as two plays.
Her website is www.DeborahTannen.com. That’s Deborah Tannen, T-A-N-N-E-N, dot com. So Deborah, what a real pleasure to have you here on the program.
Deborah Tannen: I’m so glad to be here and thank you for that lovely introduction.
Duncan Campbell: You know Deborah, you really made a big difference in my life. I’ve for many years been a great proponent -- really ever since I can remember -- of the bringing together of understanding and cooperative union between men and women.
And I remember way back in 1962 when I was a freshman in college when Betty Friedan’s book came out, and I was so excited by it that I bought several paperback copies with what little money I had at the time, and gave it to every woman that I went out with because I could see that even in the elite colleges a lot of these very bright and terrific women were spending the weekends, let’s say “practicing their dance steps,” in order to make a connection with a guy at a mixer or at a weekend party or something like that. And the roles were so clearly defined in the ‘50s that there was just the beginnings of a sense of real partnership that was opening up with Betty Friedan’s book. And then we went through a long period where that, in a sense, got co-opted by tremendous misunderstanding and polarization.
And I thought that your book just showing the way that men and women are socialized differently – as they grow up they have different play patterns, they have different ways that they use language – was a tremendous breakthrough in enabling men and women who good-heartedly wanted to connect in some larger masculine/feminine sacred marriage kind of way, to really see that a lot of their misunderstandings were rooted in their different use of language.
Something as simple as a woman getting very irritated when the husband won’t ask for directions and they keep driving around within a half an hour of the place they’re supposed to be at and never getting there because he feels that his independence is threatened in his acculturated pattern if he has to ask for directions. And yet the woman has no problem with that and in fact welcomes the possibility of talking to a stranger, making a new connection. And something as simple as that, you know, with these age-old conundrums that we’re all familiar with, were really I thought very deeply illuminated by your work.
And all the way through your other work, where you show that the yearning we all have for communication is sometimes unconsciously sabotaged just because we don’t quite get the meta-message or the matrix of how we are using language, which to our surprise the other may not only not understand but misinterpret it being completely the opposite way.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell