I'm on a bit of a "communication and relationships" binge in my reading. I have read "You Just Don't Understand", which is about men and women in conversation, and also "That's Not What I Meant!" about conversational styles. Both of these books have been extremely helpful to me both in work and in personal relationships. So I picked this book up with the expectation that it would be equally worthwhile, and I was not disappointed.Communication between family members is difficult because there are so many elements involved. Children growing to adulthood and parents needing to change their way of relating from "you are a child" to "you are my adult child", siblings relating by age and hierarchy as children and then carrying over those relationship styles into adulthood, parents aging and moving from being independent to being dependent on their adult children.... the list goes on.Tannen introduces a relational grid of " hierarchy - equality" and "connection - control". Families are established in hierarchies, parents over children, older siblings over younger siblings, etc. As siblings grow up, the ideal is that they move more towards equality. But old relationship ruts are hard to get out of, so that is why older adult siblings sometimes continue to treat younger adult siblings as though the hierarchy is still there. They have not moved towards equality, but are pulling relationships back into hierarchy. Similarly, the relationship between parents and children starts with a high degree of control, but as the children and parents age, it should move towards a balance with the closeness of connection. Tannen encourages you to think about 1) what is the message, and then 2) what is the metamessage? The message is what the words actually mean, and would mean to any person. The metamessage is the underlying message that is understood by family, but perhaps not by anyone else. When your mother says, "I think your hair looks cute when it is short", the message is just that, but the metamessage might be that she doesn't like your hair and is trying to control you into changing it. So when you figure out the message and the metamessage, you now have a grid to understand it by. Is your mother trying to demonstrate her care and closeness to you by connecting with her statement about your hair? Or is she trying to exert control over you? When your older brother berates your decisions, is he pushing you into a hierarchical relationship and not treating you as an equal? So you can see along these axes (hierarchy - equality and connection - control) that you may be misreading what your mother is trying to say, and you may also understand how your brother is pushing your buttons merely by the way he addresses you as a younger sibling. Understanding what is really being said helps you then not get angry but instead ask clarifying questions, or even more happily get the other person to think about what they are saying and why.Another interesting set of topics has to do with the axis of "rapport talk - report talk". Women speak in "rapport talk" where they discuss problems as a way of connecting and being closer. Often called "troubles talk" because it is when you talk about your troubles but don't necessarily want a solution provided. "Report talk" is generally used by men, and is a way to just report on a given situation. Men listen to women with their troubles, and "report" back a way to solve the trouble. They want to provide a solution to the troubles. Women want to connect through rapport talk, but men misunderstand and talk back with report talk. Men speak in report talk and women misunderstand because they want to hear about problems and troubles, so they try to pull men into rapport talk. All in all, this is a very helpful book and I would recommend it highly!