Shortly after Monday night's presidential debate kicked off, Donald Trump turned to Hillary Clinton, addressing her as Secretary Clinton and asked if that title was satisfactory for her:
“...Secretary Clinton - yes? Is that okay? Good. I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me."
For some viewers, those seemingly respectful words were not matched by a disingenuous tone, and Trump's characteristic, no-holds-barred communication style was quantified by his interruptions. In the course of the nearly two-hour debate, Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times, while she interrupted him 17 times.
Research by communications professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson at the University of Pennsylvania shows men in group meetings interrupt women more than vice versa. The question is how that translates for viewers and voters. Was Trump trying to be respectful? Is the contrast of the candidates' respective communication styles attributable to their genders or their life experience or a little of both? How do your experiences at work, school, or home influence your perception of the debate?
With files from the Associated Press.
Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in in D.C. and author of many books, including “You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation” (William Morrow Paperback, 2007)