The Power of Talk, Who Gets Heard and Why

ThePower of Talk, Who Gets Heard and Why

ThePower of Talk, Who Gets Heard and Why

Tannenfocuses on the concept of communication, which is based on theperspective that communication does not entail saying what one simplymeans. However, the author explains that it is how a personcommunicates the meaning. According to the general perception, thearticle further explains that communication situations may vary fromone another. A main aspect of communication is language. However, theauthor explains that a language only communicates ideas, unlikesocial behavior. Social behavior is evidently a powerful form ofcommunication. Language, a product of social behavior, allowsindividuals to negotiate relationships. Cultural experience andgender influence how individuals express themselves. Human beings areknown to express themselves in terms of speech and behavior (Tannen,140).

Competenciesof the Powerful Speaker

Asa powerful speaker, one must be a powerful communicator. Tannenexplains that a communication involves saying words, not in anyordinary way. She states that everything, usually, said shouldextrude in a specific way. Communicating in a certain way involvesthe alteration of various techniques such as voice tone, speechspeed and degrees of loudness. The author explains that individualsnormally pay more conscious attention to what they are going to say,with little attention to how they are going to say what they supposedto say. She further explains that good communicators should possesslinguistic style (Tannen, 141).

Linguisticstyle is an individual’s formal characteristic speaking pattern. Itcomprises of various features of speech such as pacing and pausing,directness and indirectness and word choice. It also includes the usenumerous elements such as stories, figures of speech, apologies,questions and jokes (Tannen, 144). Furthermore, linguistic style is acompilation of culturally attained signals that we use, not only forcommunicating what we may mean, but interpreting and evaluating otherpeople’s meanings.

AspectsUsed By the Speaker to Let Others Listen to Him/ Her

Turntaking is an important aspect that enables individuals to give otherstime to communicate what they mean, while paying attention to anindividual’s replies. Turn taking, also known as the art ofconversation, is an enterprise that individuals use to talk andobtain responses from those they indulge in communication. However,as simple as this exchange seems, it involves subtle negotiation ofvarious signals. These signals enable an individual to know when theother finishes speaking, so as to take their turn to communicate(Tannen, 143).

Roleof Gender in Communication

Accordingto Tannen (145) communication varies with gender, as it varies withcultural influence. Discovery states that men and women communicatedifferently and as cross-cultural communication, differences mayoccur. She explains that society tends to overlook women in terms ofchances of promotion. They are overlooked because majority of womenlack self-confidence, unable to express themselves, like their malecounterparts. According to Tannen, men are considered as moreconfident and outspoken, being able to express themselves withoutfear. The reason for women’s low self-confidence is the mere factthat they have grown up in different environments as to men, learningto communicate differently. The different mode of women’scommunication is, therefore, considered as less confident and lesscompetent.

Aschildren grow up, girls and boys tend to obtain different socialfields. Girls tend to socialize into acquiring a sympatheticrelationship with their peers and surrounding, focusing on commongoals and not differences. Therefore, girls tend to keep a balancebetween their individual needs and those of others, paying moreattention to avoid seeming bossy or overconfident. On the other hand,boys are socialized into developing their status in society, viaengaging in various activities in large groups of other boys (Tannen,139). Through mass interaction, boys define their leadership roles byforming character in the midst of a group setting. Therefore, boysturn out to become more competitive and socially outspoken thangirls.


Tannenexplains that the best strategy to avoid the discrimination ofwomen’s communication skills is the acceptance and comprehension ofdifferences. An understanding of the differences may lead to a fairerand better working condition for both sexes (Tannen, 148). A majorstep is the comprehension of people’s linguistic and culturalbackgrounds at workplaces and organizations. The increasedunderstanding of a person’s linguistic and cultural backgroundenables an individual to gain power in effective and efficientcommunication. The ability of people to gain awareness on other’scommunication styles gives less room for confusion andmisinterpretation of conversations. As a result of less confusion andmisinterpretation of individuals, efficiency is created at theworkplace. Also, by learning the communication modes of the twogenders, organizations can work to put into use these characters forthe benefit of the organization. Women possess a high skill insympathizing and interaction on a one-on-one level, which can be asgood negotiation skill at the workplace. On the other hand, menpossess authority and a strong will to compete, which can be used toboost an organization in its efforts to attain its goals.


Tannen,D. (1995). The power of talk: Who gets heard and why.&nbspHarvardBusiness Review,&nbsp73(5),139–148.