Quotation by Deborah Tannen

For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Emphasis is placed on displaying similarities and matching experiences. From childhood, girls criticize peers who try to stand out or appear better than others. People feel their closest connections at home, or in settings where they feel close to and comfortable with—in other words, during private speaking. But even the most public situations can be approached like private speaking. For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and negotiate and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. This is done by exhibiting knowledge and skill, and by holding center stage through verbal performance such as storytelling, joking, or imparting information. From childhood, men learn to use talking as a way to get and keep attention. So they are more comfortable speaking in larger groups made up of people they know less well—in the broadest sense, "public speaking." But even the most private situations can be approached like public speaking, more like giving a report than establishing rapport.
Deborah Tannen (b. 1945), U.S. linguist, author, educator. "Rapport-Talk and Report-Talk," You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Morrow (1990).
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