How to Talk About Divorce (Or Not)
If someone close to you is going through a divorce, you may not know what to say. Do they want to talk about it? You want to be helpful, but it can be tough to intuit what they need. For some, opening up about their divorce is healing. Others would rather talk about something else—or do something active. So, what is the best way to communicate with friends and family members about how you can best support them?
Deborah Tannen is a New York Times bestselling author and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. Her work focuses on how the language of everyday conversation impacts relationships, and she is best known for You Just Don’t Understand, the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness. Deborah is a frequent guest on national media, including The Today Show, PBS New Hour, Oprah and NPR. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, TIME and The Harvard Business Review, among many other publications. Deborah’s latest book, You’re the Only One I Can Tell, explores the language of women’s friendships.
Today, Deborah joins Katherine to discuss the positive and negative aspects of communicating with friends and family around the divorce process. She explains the concept of metacommunication, describing how you can best support friends who are going through difficult circumstances. Deborah also shares a gentle way to deal with someone whose talk is unhelpful and addresses the dynamics between mothers and daughters around divorce. Listen in for Deborah’s insight on why some value talk while others are cautious of it—and learn how to accept differences in communication to best serve the people you love.
How talk serves as the basis for women’s friendships
How unhelpful talk plays into our fears about divorce
Why some value talk more while others are cautious
The value of metacommunication in difficult contexts
Why a specific offer is better than ‘anything I can do’
How to gain an awareness of conversational styles
Why activities can be just as healing as talk
How to deal with a friend whose talk is unhelpful
The dynamics between mothers and daughters around divorce
How the opportunity to divorce recognizes women’s humanity
Why friends feel rejected when crises are kept secret
The healing power of talk in difficult circumstances
The differences among male and female best friends
The role of talk in making people feel understood
Connect with Deborah Tannen
Connect with Katherine Miller
The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller
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