Tag Archives: conversation

Short Thought 185 (revealing)

Without any particular probing on my part, the first time we talked he revealed a lot of personal things about himself, more than you’d normally expect, the sort of things you’d tell if you were building trust and confidence with a new acquaintance. Yet he didn’t seem interested in talking again.

When that happens I think either a) the person is rather forthcoming with lots of people (so there’s nothing special about it) or b) they feel they have over shared and need to back away. In any case what I know for sure is I let it go, I don’t pursue it. It wasn’t always that way but I learned.

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Group talk

Sometimes if I’m in a group and someone else makes a statement or asks a question, the responder will direct their answer to me, as in looking right at my face and not at the initiator. It happens regularly. Maybe it’s because I am an attentive listener or appear interested – I’m not sure exactly. It can mess me up occasionally, if I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to the previous remarks.  Now I’ve got to look lively.

Once I’m being directly addressed, it seems polite to maintain eye contact and listen (unless the speaker is talking nonsense and/or show no sign of letting up), in part because at that point I feel less like an individual and more like a representative of the group. It’s still weird though, because the best I can offer in return are “Mmmm” sounds or vague “I see’s”. I feel bad for the person who actually started the topic too, because now they’re being sort of ignored. I’m not going to pretend I initiated the discussion, though, and continue to engage the speaker once they wind down.  And I can’t bring myself to bluntly say, “Why are you telling me? He’s the one who asked you.”

Things Men Have Said To Me (#16)

Years ago when I was in a park studying, a man I didn’t know walked by and we ended up having a conversation. He said he was divorced.

HIM (somewhat bitterly): “When you get married you think you’re going to have sex all the time. But it’s not like that at all.”

Things Men Have Said To Me (#15)

I was having a conversation with a man and I said how much I enjoyed Judge Judy.

HIM: “I don’t like her. She’s too judgemental.”

ME: “But she’s a judge!”

Short Thought 87 (bumpkin)

I knew a man who, with his wife, went overseas for work. On a return visit, he and I talked and I said how impressed I was with his new life and what he’d accomplished. He answered that he was “still a bumpkin” there just as he was here. This cut to the heart of it for me because I knew exactly what he meant. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I too will remain a bumpkin.

“He gets crabby when he’s hungry”

I was in my early twenties and he was a few years older. We were pretty serious. Both of us had relatives who made noises about us getting married. I wasn’t ready to marry him or anybody and it was nothing we discussed anyway. He lived with his parents and while at the time that was a bit unusual (not like now), I didn’t care about that. His mother and I had a bond and talked together, just the two of us sometimes.

One day we were talking about her son and she said words to the effect, “Of course you know he gets crabby when he’s hungry.” I didn’t know any such thing. I didn’t know I got crabby when I was hungry (I do), let alone him. The expectation that I should know – and have some responsibility for it – hung in the air.

His mom did too much for him, that I did know. The domestic stuff, the cooking, the laundry, and so on, and that was fine by him. I wouldn’t say he was a mama’s boy but she clearly adored him (and not without reason). Still, even though I was young, I was sharp enough to know that if my boyfriend went from mom to marriage with no stops in-between, the new wife’s job would be to pick up where his mom left off. This wasn’t 1950 and it wasn’t what I saw for myself. Not the only reason, or even the main reason we didn’t stay together, but one of them.

Where are your priorities??

I have a hard time relating to people who have their priorities out of whack. It’s like there could be a giant tree that has fallen and crushed the roof of their house but they want to talk about the weed in the lawn that is really bothering them. I don’t know what to say to this kind of talk. I don’t have a lot of patience for it.

It could be that focusing on trivia when there are much bigger issues at hand is a coping skill (albeit not a very good one). And that might be the case in some instances, especially when the bigger problem is out of their control or simply too much to deal with all at once. That I understand. As I write this, I’m trying to think if I ever do that; become preoccupied with small stuff when I can’t do anything about the larger concerns. It’s possible.

What I’m getting at, though, isn’t about situations where nothing can be done. It is when people willfully refuse to prioritize, when they could do something about an important problem or issue that needs their attention, and instead obsess over minutia and – significantly – want to talk about it and enlist your involvement. They want you to respond in kind. That I cannot do. Humoring people is not my strong suit.

I gauge my response, if any, depending on the relationship, with responses like:
Why is that important?
Why are you telling me about this?
Why is that bothering you?
Don’t you have bigger problems?
You might want to forget about the weed and do something about the tree in your roof.

One idea that keeps coming up time and again is that what all people, whoever they are, really want is to be acknowledged, valued, and heard. To feel that they, and their contribution, matter. And I see a good deal of evidence to support that. On a personal level it rings true too. I have a hard time, though, reconciling this apparent truism with all the trivia talkers, the people who forego important things, the high priority stuff, in favor of minutia. Who seem to have no priorities.