Learning how to listen to and analyze talk is fundamental to understanding human communication. This engaging text examines how the "little stuff" of everyday conversation--what we say and how we say it, the terms we use to refer to others, the content and style of stories we tell, and myriad other factors--expresses both who we are and who we want to be. The book draws on discourse analytic research and applies it to a wide range of real-life situations and examples, including private conversations among friends and family as well as interchanges in the classroom, workplace, and public settings. Interweaving rhetorical and cultural perspectives, the author gives particular attention to the ways talk reflects communicators' cultural and social background, nationality, ethnicity, social class, and gender, as well as the dynamics between particular conversational partners. Illuminated is the complex role that talking plays in building relationships and creating--and hopefully, resolving--relational problems.