Author Topic: How do you converse?  (Read 7758 times)

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guihong

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How do you converse?
« on: April 17, 2013, 11:59:36 PM »
Hi, all:

Mods, not sure what category this is supposed to be in.

This sounds like the silliest question, but DH and I had an argument (really round #10,987 of an argument that's lasted 16 years  >:().  How do people converse with one another?

When DH's family is sitting around talking, let's say Person A begins a subject and states something.  Person B will jump in and say something, often before Person A is finished.  Then Persons C and D will jump in, and as soon as Person D appears to be trailing off or finishing, Person E hops in, and so on.  If the topic is something controversial, like politics, the rule is "He (or She) with the quickest reaction time and the loudest voice "wins".  To me, it is a lot of interrupting, although no one gets truly angry and it isn't abusive.  We had a huge fight at his parents' house (we went for a walk) after one such episode, in which I was not allowed to finish my thoughts during a debate. 

In my family, at least before death took so many of the people DH knew, one person shares and then there's a pause before someone else begins, and everyone shares.   It's almost parliamentary.  This started when I was a kid at the dinner table, and everyone could speak about the day without interruption. 

Now my own kids and DH communicate just as he did in his family and I feel I can't get a word in.  I have a soft voice and take a while to get my thoughts together and then form words, and in that interim, DH or a kid will jump in.  When I get mad, DH says 95% of people communicate like this and my family had been stiff, formal and just plain odd (well, odd I can give him  ;D).  I couldn't stand visiting DH's family partly for this reason, and he felt out of place and very uncomfortable around my family.  He called them "cold".  He's probably right, there.  My father kept his emotions very close to the vest, and he was partly deaf.  He was a far better listener than speaker.  He also had the same "lag" between knowing what he wanted to say, and saying it.

Is he right, and I'm the oddball, or is this just a different style out of circumstances and personalities?
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 12:02:44 AM by guihong »



WillyNilly

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 12:08:43 AM »
Personally I think you both are a bit off to extremes. There shouldn't be (IMO) regular lags in conversation, lags are not a norm, just a once in a while thing when extra care and thought are needed. And people shouldn't interrupt regularly - although it is sometimes necessary.

PastryGoddess

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 12:12:09 AM »
Your DH is wrong.  He made up that percentage to make himself feel better :)

I personally prefer to converse with each person having a say, but I have family members who converse like your DH's family.

I think that it's probably a 50/50 split.  What's more important is that he listens to you and tries to work with you in getting your voice heard by his family. 

EllenS

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 12:34:48 AM »
I think, like most human behavior, it's probably a bell curve - your family and DH's family are toward the ends, and most people fall somewhere in the middle.  My family of origin was a mix of the 2 like your family now: talkative father and kids, mom who took longer to decide what she wanted to say.

My DH's family is even more talkative and forward in conversation, and there are a lot more of them.  They have actually developed the ability to conduct multiple conversations with different people around the table simultaneously.  As in, one person will be carrying on 3 different conversations at the same time, and each other person may be participating in multiple conversations as well.  That makes my head spin.  I am the less-talkative one in that group, for sure.  It has given me a new appreciation of what my mom was dealing with. 

I think what your DH may not get, is how isolating and demeaning it feels when you feel like you are not heard, like your voice does not count.  The people I know who are on the more outgoing and talkative side, just don't take it seriously if they are interrupted, because there is always more where that came from - easy come, easy go.  While folks who are more on the introverted side invest a lot of themselves in what they want to say, and it is more hurtful to be disregarded or cut off.

I don't have specific etiquette points about the situation you describe, but the way I deal with the overwhelming nature of DH's family, is I just know that I need breaks from it, and find reasons to wander in and out, and make time to talk to people in smaller groups or 1to1.  That way I feel like we really are getting to know one another and they do value me.  Then I can consider the group discussions as "dinner and a show" and happily be the audience.  Don't know if that helps you, but it helps me.
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MariaE

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 02:34:42 AM »
Personally I think you both are a bit off to extremes. There shouldn't be (IMO) regular lags in conversation, lags are not a norm, just a once in a while thing when extra care and thought are needed. And people shouldn't interrupt regularly - although it is sometimes necessary.

Agree with this.
 
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Iris

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 02:49:31 AM »
Podding the rest. While I am not at all used to actual gaps in conversations, constant interruptions would drive me batty. I think the issue here though is that *you* are feeling unheard and isolated and even if 95% of people conversed as your DH is used to (they don't) I would expect him to slow down a bit so that you weren't feeling excluded. I would also expect your children to have the respect to wait for mom to have her say before jumping in.

In fairness it's quite possible that they don't notice you wanting to speak, simply because they are so rapid. I know DD2 gets frustrated sometimes because everyone else is older than her and take less time to get their sentences together. If she feels this way she raises her hand like at school  ;D. It may seem silly but it works, because it makes us aware of the situation and she gets the next conversational 'turn'. Perhaps your family could come up with some other less school-y signal that they need to slow down for a sec.
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Raintree

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 04:41:04 AM »
I'm with OP. How is it a conversation or a free exchange of ideas if I am not allowed to make my point? (Or if anyone is not allowed to make their point). Usually what ends up happening is someone cuts me off and argues with what they THINK I'm going to say, not what I was actually planning to say. Or perhaps I want to listen to what Person B is saying, but I can't, because Person C jumps in with some tangent.

The OP's DH's family would drive me batty, and I'd probably just clam up and say nothing at all, since it would appear nobody was really all that interested in what I had to say.

sammycat

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 06:10:30 AM »
Personally I think you both are a bit off to extremes. There shouldn't be (IMO) regular lags in conversation, lags are not a norm, just a once in a while thing when extra care and thought are needed. And people shouldn't interrupt regularly - although it is sometimes necessary.

Agree with this.

Me too. Most people I know fall in between these 2 extremes.

CrochetFanatic

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 06:41:06 AM »
I agree with the OP.  If this happens often enough and is (for lack of a better word) severe enough, if makes a person feel like what they have to say isn't important.  I've had it where I've chimed in with something, and what I've said isn't acknowledged at all (conversation continues as if I haven't spoken, and there is no nodding or eye contact, in other words).  I've also had people interrupt me just as I've begun to speak, and when I've continued speaking in the hopes that they would get the hint, they would hold up a finger and say "Hold that thought."  And if the conversation turns to politics, well, forget it.  There's no diving back in!  ;D  I don't talk much at all, but when I do, I want to be heard!

Interrupting is okay sometimes, depending on the reason.  It could also be a subtle (or not) hint that someone has been a chatterbox.  It doesn't sound like this is the case, though.

Roe

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 07:41:32 AM »
Personally I think you both are a bit off to extremes. There shouldn't be (IMO) regular lags in conversation, lags are not a norm, just a once in a while thing when extra care and thought are needed. And people shouldn't interrupt regularly - although it is sometimes necessary.

Agree with this.

Me too. Most people I know fall in between these 2 extremes.

Yep.  In our family, a person is allowed to finish their thoughts but there's usually no lag in between.  And every now and then, someone (usually me) will interrupt someone else but the conversation continues flowing and the thoughts and ideas are still being shared. 

Now, it could be because we all have strong voices and so no one feels unheard.  Maybe try working on projecting your voice more?  Not sure if that will help you feel like someone is listening but I do have a friend who has a very small voice and I can see why she's often interrupted or not heard.  Her voice does not carry.  I've talked about it with her and she's working on it but when she needs a stronger voice, I yell it out for her.  ;) 

reflection5

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 08:20:33 AM »
Interrupting people before they finish their sentences/thoughts is rude.
Shouting/screaming is rude.
I cannot and will not take part in a “conversation” where several people are talking at once.  It gives me a headache and I’d rather leave the area than deal with such nonsense.  >:(

I’ve stopped talking and stared at people who are loud, yell, and interrupt.  Or I might say “Excuse me.  I’m speaking.” If they keep doing it, or if they cut off someone else who is talking to me, I say “Please.  Wait!  X is talking.”  Or I ignore the interrupter.

No one should have to sit in silence; a conversation should just flow.  If two people start to speak at the same time (accidentally) usually one says “oh, go ahead”.

cabbageweevil

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2013, 08:28:44 AM »
I think, like most human behavior, it's probably a bell curve - your family and DH's family are toward the ends, and most people fall somewhere in the middle.  My family of origin was a mix of the 2 like your family now: talkative father and kids, mom who took longer to decide what she wanted to say.

My DH's family is even more talkative and forward in conversation, and there are a lot more of them.  They have actually developed the ability to conduct multiple conversations with different people around the table simultaneously.  As in, one person will be carrying on 3 different conversations at the same time, and each other person may be participating in multiple conversations as well.  That makes my head spin.  I am the less-talkative one in that group, for sure.  It has given me a new appreciation of what my mom was dealing with. 

I think what your DH may not get, is how isolating and demeaning it feels when you feel like you are not heard, like your voice does not count.  The people I know who are on the more outgoing and talkative side, just don't take it seriously if they are interrupted, because there is always more where that came from - easy come, easy go.  While folks who are more on the introverted side invest a lot of themselves in what they want to say, and it is more hurtful to be disregarded or cut off.

Altogether an interesting subject.  I agree here with EllenS – likely, overall a bell curve: OP’s husband’s “95% of people communicate like him and his” declaration, seems just mistaken and wrong.

I encountered a while ago, an interesting book by a linguist, which dealt among other things with different conversational styles.  The author made a distinction between two opposing conversational styles (with intermediate ones existing, between the two).  She wrote of the “high-consideration” style (participants are careful to take turns in speaking, and to give all who participate, the chance to have their say); and the “high-involvement” style (“benevolent anarchy”, people speak “all-together-now” – interrupting taken as “I hear you, I appreciate your contribution”, rather than “shut up with your foolish drivel and listen to me, who have the rights of the matter”) – as EllenS says, “more where that came from – easy come, easy go”.  Good and less-good qualities seen, of both styles; and emphasised, “neither is right or wrong, just different”.

Author also opined that this can be a cultural thing – people of different geographical / ethnic areas can tend to one or the other end of this spectrum;  which can, when those from different areas mix, lead to negative sentiments:  the “high-involvement” folk feel that the “high-consideration” ones are a bit slow and stupid, whilst, the other way about, feeling is “we, the considerate, do things rightly – they are rude and brash and abrasive”.

EllenS, I feel like you, in that I could absolutely not cope with multiple persons carrying on multiple conversations at the same time.  My head would not just spin, it would explode.

OP -- I'm on your side of the equation -- find it difficult to hold own end up among the "motor-mouths", and wish that greater consideration might prevail.




Thipu1

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2013, 08:29:51 AM »
Conversation in the family is kind of like a friendly tennis game.  Most discussions go back and forth in an orderly fashion without interruptions.  Usually, people get to finish a thout before someone else has a question or something to add.  Family gatherings are quite pleasant. 

FIL had an unpleasant conversational habit.  Two or three of us would be having a chat about something and, out of the blue, he'd start up a completely different conversation with one of us.  It was maddening.

Mr. Thipu also has an unfortunate habit.  I sometimes stutter a little and, when there's the slightest pause in my speech, he'll jump in with what he thinks is the proper word. If he's wrong (and he often is) I lose my train of thought.

  We've been married 30 years and I was never aware of this until SIL pointed it out and told him to
stop it.  He hasn't.  I suppose the habit is so deeply engrained he can't. 

perpetua

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2013, 08:36:18 AM »

In my family, at least before death took so many of the people DH knew, one person shares and then there's a pause before someone else begins, and everyone shares.   It's almost parliamentary.  This started when I was a kid at the dinner table, and everyone could speak about the day without interruption. 

While I'm not a fan of interrupting people, your family's method of conversing does sound terribly stilted and unnatural, so I think compromise on both sides is called for here.

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2013, 08:55:35 AM »
The method of interrupting and screaming to get a point across is what causes me to be rude, because I just get up and walk away.  My DD tends to yell to get her point across and sometimes you find yourself getting sucked in and all it does is spike the blood pressure and no one hears anyone else.  I like spirited conversations with give and take, but everyone gets a chance to finish before someone is jumping in.  OP, I would just walk away when this starts with both your DH and your kids, but tell them ahead of time that if the conversation starts to get out of control, I will walk away till we can get back on track.