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The Female Approach

Women, on the other hand, often grow up under the misconception that criticism means something must be wrong with them. Tannen found in her research that women’s purpose in communicating is to build connection and intimacy. Women enjoy building rapport and interacting with others. Therefore, when women are criticized they feel that the connection and intimacy has been broken. Sometimes this connection break is played out as a “cold war”—the woman’s feelings are hurt and so she won’t talk to the critic or anyone associated with the critic.

This “cold war” reaction is particularly difficult for men to understand. A man may have a conflict with another man at 10 A.M. and go to lunch with that same person at noon. This is unfathomable behavior for most women. Because they feel hurt, it will take some time to restore the relationship.


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