TALKING FROM 9 TO 5: WOMEN AND MEN AT WORK by Deborah Tannen is a book that everyone should read if he or she goes to work, anywhere. If you are a boss or have a boss, you should read this book (thank you Mom & Dad). If you work with other people, you should read this book. Now that I have stressed that, I will tell you more about the book's focus and the points Tannen makes very well. She is well known for her book, YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND, which I have not read, but which is about how relationship problems come about due to differing communication styles between women and men ("Report" talk by men vs. "rapport" talk by women -- women talk "troubles talk" to build community, when men hear this, they are more than likely to feel that the problems need solving and will say what to do; this creates dissonance as the woman just wants to feel understood not "bossed" around, and the man can't understand why she's telling him problems if she doesn't want solutions). This book takes those issues to work and through many examples from her own research and others in sociolinguistics, anthropology and sociology, Tannen makes the point that different communication styles are problematic only when people don't understand them, that there is no "better" way to talk than another. Tannen made a fascinating point about communication styles and conversation rituals. She writes that people think they can tell when someone is lying to them, but research shows that really, people are not good at discerning this. In a similar way, we think we can tell if someone is confident and a good leader by the way they talk, but we can't. A woman, who raises the tone of her statements to sound like questions, who gives indirect orders and who seeks input before making decisions may often be assumed to be weaker than a man in a similar role, but her conversation rituals are not a true mark of who she is; they are the communication style that she was more likely than not socialized to use as a woman. Likewise, men are assumed to want the floor and command, when sometimes they would rather not take it. Tannen gives evidence on how difficult it is for women to be heard in meetings, and provides anthropological studies that show that as far back as age 3, boys listen to boys and girls listen to girls at play, but boys do not listen to girls, and may ignore and insult them when they pipe up to direct activities. This book is not a polemic against men or masculine styles. Tannen finds that most communication styles are appropriate in many instances. There is more than one way to get the job done, and sometimes, a masculine style is better than a feminine style, and sometimes the opposite is true, but she makes it very clear that a lack of that understanding can be detrimental to organizations because of erroneous assumptions made about people's abilities based on their conversational style. One of her overriding points, born out by her research, is that women tend to talk to build community and do nont like to stand out for accomplishments or for failures in a group. They will engage in ritual talk that seeks inclusion so as to maintain good feeling among the group, not because they are insecure and need to feel that no one dislikes them. Men, on the other hand, tend to engage in one-up talk, are more sensitive to being one down, and will take the lead to avoid being bested. (When a woman who is trying to build community is "one-upped" by a man who takes her ritualistic talk and her willingness to put herself down to create harmony, she feels "betrayed" by his spurning of her communal talk to take the upper hand. Who is "right?" Neither, but their reactions to the same conversation may be very different and in some cases, harmful to the organization.) This book really changed the way I think about organizational life, the assumptions that I draw, the way I have communicated with people who worked for me, and what I will strive to do in the future. Even if you don't read the whole thing, buy it and keep it around. The last chapter, "Who gets heard" is especially instructive, and the afterword is a great essay on the issue with justification for her methods and theories. I think this book would be perfect for anyone who reports to someone of the opposite gender or who is the boss of same. But because the standards for styles are not entirely gender based, I would, again, suggest this book to EVERYONE.