"Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others, but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.""Each person's life is lived as a series of conversations.""Each underestimates her own power and overestimates the other's.""Relationships are made of talk - and talk is for girls and women.""The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation - or a relationship.""We all know we are unique individuals, but we tend to see others as representatives of groups.""We tend to look through language and not realize how much power language has."
Tannen graduated from Hunter College High School and completed her undergraduate studies at Harpur College (now part of Binghamton University) with a B.A. in English Literature. Tannen went on to earn a Masters in English Literature at Wayne State University. Later, she continued her academic studies at UC Berkeley, earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Linguistics.
Deborah Tannen has lectured worldwide in her field, and written or edited numerous academic publications on linguistics, discourse analysis, and interpersonal communication. Books she has written or edited include Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends, Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue and Imagery in Conversational Discourse, Gender and Discourse, and The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Her major theoretical contribution, presented in Talking Voices, is a poetics of conversation. She shows that everyday conversation is made up of linguistic features such as repetition, dialogue, and imagery, that are traditionally regarded as literary.
Tannen has also written several general-audience books on interpersonal communication and public discourse. She became well-known in the United States after her book You Just Don't Understand - Women and Men in Conversation was published in 1990. It remained on the New York Times best seller list for nearly four years (8 months at No.1) and was subsequently translated into 30 other languages. She has written several other general-audience books including That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships, Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work, The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words, I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You're All Adults, and her most recent book, You're Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, which was also a New York Times best seller.