cover image Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

Suzette Haden Elgin. John Wiley & Sons, $21.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-471-58016-4

Elgin ( The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense ) offers a counter to Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand . Elgin argues that men and women, in fact, speak the same language and can successfully communicate with one another in the workplace, family and intimate relationships. Though she agrees that men and women perceive the world differently, she sees language and communication as a way to bridge those differences rather than as the greatest barrier. Structured around her ``Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense'' system, this volume demonstrates how to tackle various situations in which men and women often end up in verbal conflict. Each chapter includes a narrative conflict case study, analysis, discussion of communication techniques and review of the original case. The issues Elgin traces out are very up-to-date (two-career-family problems, sexual harassment), her advice is straightforward and clear and the techniques seem smart and reasonable. Though, as she admits, her system assumes quite a bit of cultural homogeneity, it offers a practical and useful guide for treading the minefield of communication between men and women. BOMC, QPB and Fortune Book Club selections; author tour. (June)