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Deborah Tannen - Many of us dismiss talk that does not convey important information as worthless - meaningless small talk if it's a social setting or "empty rhetoric" if it's public. Such admonitions as "Skip the small talk, " "Get to the point," or "Why don't you say what you mean?" may seem to be reasonable. But they are reasonable only if information is all that counts. This attitude toward talk ignores the fact that people are emotionally involved with each other and that talking is the major way be establish, maintain, monitor and adjust our relationships.

Many of us dismiss talk that does not convey important information as worthless - meaningless small talk if it's a social setting or "empty rhetoric" if it's public. Such admonitions as "Skip the small talk, " "Get to the point," or "Why don't you say what you mean?" may seem to be reasonable. But they are reasonable only if information is all that counts. This attitude toward talk ignores the fact that people are emotionally involved with each other and that talking is the major way be establish, maintain, monitor and adjust our relationships.

Deborah Tannen
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