Author Topic: How do you converse?  (Read 7737 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #45 on: April 20, 2013, 09:09:46 PM »
One other thought on families where interrupting isn't uncommon:

They don't actually expect you to STOP talking. There's an assumption that listening and talking can be done simultaneously.

One of the most annoying things about my DH is that he will stop and START OVER if you interrupt him for the tiniest thing. Which is really annoying because he tends to monopolize and pontificate.


DH: "So the British prime minister was--"
Me (to the other person int he room): "Did you get the drink you wanted?"
DH: "So the British prime minister was--"
Other person: "Yes, thanks"
DH: "So the British prime minister was--"

JUST KEEP GOING! What you are saying is not that difficult to follow--and it's not so important that we can't ask someone to pass the salt, or share a small exchange.

JUST KEEP TALKING! We don't want to sit there and hang on your every word. I know it makes him feel important, but ye gods--credit us with enough brains to be able to follow your long-winded story even while we're talking *briefly* about other stuff.

So for the OP, maybe you should just keep going.

(I'll say that one of the most fun nights I had recently, I was out with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time, and afterward it felt as if we had both talked constantly. And yet half of that conversation was asking follow-up questions about stuff the other person talked about. We didn't talk constantly in reality, but it sort of felt like it!)

Raintree

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #46 on: April 21, 2013, 07:05:47 PM »
DH: "So the British prime minister was--"
Me (to the other person int he room): "Did you get the drink you wanted?"

Yeah, but I HATE that!! I have two people in my family who are the interrupters, and it seems as though when they talk, they are allowed to finish, but when I talk, I get half a sentence out and get interrupted by a tangent conversation about having seconds, or "would you like a bit more gravy on that?" or something completely unrelated altogether (something that happened last week) that pops into the interrupter's head. So with these two people, and only these two people, I have resorted to your DH's tactic of starting all over again, just to drive home the point that I had kind of wanted to say something. And it's not that I am a conversation hog either; I am generally pretty quiet and low key, and with other people I find conversation to be much more of a two-way street.

It IS possible to indicate you would like salt to be passed to you without cutting someone off. "Sorry, one sec, can I have the salt? Thanks...go on...." Or a quiet "could I have the salt?" with a gesture or motion of the head, while maintaining eye contact and nodding at the speaker.

And, one of these interrupters in my family claims, as you do, that he can listen and carry on this second conversation at the same time. So I'll think I am clearing up plans for the next day, or explaining something important, and then later I get, "What? I thought we were...." and it becomes clear he hasn't heard a word I said.

The other day I was trying to share something amusing I'd seen on-line (on-topic to do with a current event we were talking about), and I was cut off after the first part with "Oh yeah, I totally agree, blah blah blah tangent on same topic...."  and I said, "But I'm not finished yet.....it said..." I was cut off again. After the third time I tried for the punchline and was cut off, I gave up. Later, I found the thing on-line and showed the interrupter, "This is what I was trying to tell you about earlier." Once he saw the whole thing, he thought it was hilarious and then wanted to share it with everyone.

Iris

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #47 on: April 21, 2013, 07:30:36 PM »
DH: "So the British prime minister was--"
Me (to the other person int he room): "Did you get the drink you wanted?"

Yeah, but I HATE that!! I have two people in my family who are the interrupters, and it seems as though when they talk, they are allowed to finish, but when I talk, I get half a sentence out and get interrupted by a tangent conversation about having seconds, or "would you like a bit more gravy on that?" or something completely unrelated altogether (something that happened last week) that pops into the interrupter's head. So with these two people, and only these two people, I have resorted to your DH's tactic of starting all over again, just to drive home the point that I had kind of wanted to say something. And it's not that I am a conversation hog either; I am generally pretty quiet and low key, and with other people I find conversation to be much more of a two-way street.

It IS possible to indicate you would like salt to be passed to you without cutting someone off. "Sorry, one sec, can I have the salt? Thanks...go on...." Or a quiet "could I have the salt?" with a gesture or motion of the head, while maintaining eye contact and nodding at the speaker.

And, one of these interrupters in my family claims, as you do, that he can listen and carry on this second conversation at the same time. So I'll think I am clearing up plans for the next day, or explaining something important, and then later I get, "What? I thought we were...." and it becomes clear he hasn't heard a word I said.

The other day I was trying to share something amusing I'd seen on-line (on-topic to do with a current event we were talking about), and I was cut off after the first part with "Oh yeah, I totally agree, blah blah blah tangent on same topic...."  and I said, "But I'm not finished yet.....it said..." I was cut off again. After the third time I tried for the punchline and was cut off, I gave up. Later, I found the thing on-line and showed the interrupter, "This is what I was trying to tell you about earlier." Once he saw the whole thing, he thought it was hilarious and then wanted to share it with everyone.

This. People who multitask often only THINK they can multitask. Research shows that multitasking only works well when it is two totally unrelated things e.g. chopping carrots for dinner (physical, subconscious brain) and holding a conversation (verbal, conscious brain). Brains CANNOT simultaneously consciously hold the thoughts "This person is talking about X" and "I wonder if so and so wants gravy with that?" and give them both the same amount of concentration as if they were the only thing you were doing. You (general) may get the salient points and general gist, but it's still not really listening, so for example you may ask about the gravy twice, or realise that you haven't really understood what they are saying.
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TootsNYC

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #48 on: April 21, 2013, 08:52:34 PM »
I think one of the reasons this happens to DH is that whatever he's talking about isn't that important. Yet. This is the boring part.

Raintree

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #49 on: April 22, 2013, 03:51:23 AM »
I think one of the reasons this happens to DH is that whatever he's talking about isn't that important. Yet. This is the boring part.

Ah, but it might be important. I can tell who the people are that tune me out until they hear some key word that captures their attention (it's these same two people). Then once they realize it's interesting, they expect me to go back and explain it all again from the beginning.

Example (ridiculous example totally made up off the top of my head):

Me: This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus, and she said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game and since she was so grateful for the work I did for her today, she gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"

Bad listener (BL): "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
Me: "The woman who was riding the elephant."
BL: "Riding an elephant? How come she was riding an elephant?"
Me: "Because she's in the circus. I told you, she rides elephants in a circus."
BL: "This is a friend of yours?"
Me: "No, a client at work I told you."
BL: "So how come she is giving you tickets to the hockey game?"
Me: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

And so on.


TurtleDove

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #50 on: April 22, 2013, 06:17:00 AM »
I think one of the reasons this happens to DH is that whatever he's talking about isn't that important. Yet. This is the boring part.

This.  I try to be a good listener, but some people really do not have the gift of storytelliing, IMHO.  If this is coupled with slow speech I have a very difficult time wanting to pay attention, and I find myself willing them to spit out whatever they are trying to say.  I can't hear the content because the delivery irritates me.  Thankfully, I cannot think of anyone in my family or close friends like this (which is a good thing all around because some people prefer slower speech and probably would find what this type of person says to be interesting). It's not so much a right or wrong, just a "we mesh well in our speech patterns" or "we don't."

WillyNilly

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #51 on: April 22, 2013, 10:02:38 AM »
I think one of the reasons this happens to DH is that whatever he's talking about isn't that important. Yet. This is the boring part.

This.  I try to be a good listener, but some people really do not have the gift of storytelliing, IMHO.  If this is coupled with slow speech I have a very difficult time wanting to pay attention, and I find myself willing them to spit out whatever they are trying to say.  I can't hear the content because the delivery irritates me.  Thankfully, I cannot think of anyone in my family or close friends like this (which is a good thing all around because some people prefer slower speech and probably would find what this type of person says to be interesting). It's not so much a right or wrong, just a "we mesh well in our speech patterns" or "we don't."

I agree.

I try hard with people who start out with the boring parts, slowly but its very unpleasant for me. I might not interrupt out loud, but I's screaming about story composition and flow in my mind the whole time, so the result of me not getting every details is the same result anyway.

I think one of the reasons this happens to DH is that whatever he's talking about isn't that important. Yet. This is the boring part.

Ah, but it might be important. I can tell who the people are that tune me out until they hear some key word that captures their attention (it's these same two people). Then once they realize it's interesting, they expect me to go back and explain it all again from the beginning.

Example (ridiculous example totally made up off the top of my head):

Me: This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus, and she said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game and since she was so grateful for the work I did for her today, she gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"

Bad listener (BL): "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
Me: "The woman who was riding the elephant."
BL: "Riding an elephant? How come she was riding an elephant?"
Me: "Because she's in the circus. I told you, she rides elephants in a circus."
BL: "This is a friend of yours?"
Me: "No, a client at work I told you."
BL: "So how come she is giving you tickets to the hockey game?"
Me: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

And so on.



The solution is, because you can't change others only yourself, that if you find this happens, change how you tell the story. Say the meat part first and don't just give a speech - do actually allow for questions along the way because remember a conversation is a back-n-forth and a big block of just speaking is unlikely to hold their attention.

You: A woman gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"
Listener: "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
You: "This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus. She said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game.
Listener: ""So how come she is giving you the tickets?"
You: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

Same information but presented differently you have drawn your listener in with curiosity instead of rambling on before you get to your point. Because honestly starting off with a story about a random stranger and their life, can be a boring prospect. But starting off with an exciting offer opens up to intrigue. People want to know how the story you are telling pertains to them. Maybe its about someone they care about, or a place or topic they are interested in, etc but its has to hold their attention if you want them to listen. A random woman who came into someone else's workplace doesn't pertain to them at all so they tune you out. Asking someone to go to an event does pertain to them so they are drawn in.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 10:04:48 AM by WillyNilly »

artk2002

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #52 on: April 22, 2013, 10:46:27 AM »
The solution is, because you can't change others only yourself, that if you find this happens, change how you tell the story. Say the meat part first and don't just give a speech - do actually allow for questions along the way because remember a conversation is a back-n-forth and a big block of just speaking is unlikely to hold their attention.

You: A woman gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"
Listener: "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
You: "This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus. She said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game.
Listener: ""So how come she is giving you the tickets?"
You: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

Same information but presented differently you have drawn your listener in with curiosity instead of rambling on before you get to your point. Because honestly starting off with a story about a random stranger and their life, can be a boring prospect. But starting off with an exciting offer opens up to intrigue. People want to know how the story you are telling pertains to them. Maybe its about someone they care about, or a place or topic they are interested in, etc but its has to hold their attention if you want them to listen. A random woman who came into someone else's workplace doesn't pertain to them at all so they tune you out. Asking someone to go to an event does pertain to them so they are drawn in.

Thank you! This is excellent advice for anyone trying to start a conversation. Don't give all the background information first! I have this problem with my sons, who give these convoluted stories full of personal pronouns without antecedents ("he"? Which he?) and references to other information ("Purple Pink Dragons"? Who are they? Oh, a band) that I don't have. It drives me nuts, and then they get shirty with me if I interrupt with the "He? Which he?" question; the usual response is "I'm getting to that!"
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Lynn2000

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #53 on: April 22, 2013, 12:31:28 PM »
Interesting turn in the thread to storytelling ideas. I have one friend, Amy, who will tell me stories in excruciating detail--she will list every single person who was in the group with her, or every single thing she ate at a restaurant, for example, when those details are completely unnecessary for the story. I'm nearly used to it, though, so I just nod and wait for her to get to the point.

Another friend, Emma, kind of annoys me with her stories, though... I find them extremely difficult to follow. Even without me interrupting at all, she will tell parts out of order, go off on tangents, and use pronouns like "he" and "she" without explaining who she's talking about. I would feel like a police interrogator trying to straighten out the stories, I'd need to ask so many questions; so usually I just listen and nod along and react more to the emotional content (which seems to be the important part anyway), even if in the end I couldn't tell you who it was who said what, or when it happened, or what the real sequence of events was. It's really difficult to get a straightforward, linear answer out of her.

I think with my friends there's a lot of, Person A is telling a story, so they're doing most of the talking; but Person B is doing "active listening," where technically they're interrupting or at least jumping into pauses, but they're saying stuff that goes along with the story. Like (thank you, Raintree):

A: This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus--

B: That's so cool! I love elephants.

A: --so I was chatting with her about the circus, and she said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant!

B: Gasp! Crud monkeys! During a show? Was anyone hurt?

A: Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game--

B: Oh, wow, that's good. Free hockey tickets, that's random.

A: --and since she was so grateful for the work I did for her today, she gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?

B: Wow, that's awesome, that's so nice of her. No, I don't really like hockey, thanks though.


But probably with even more interruptions, actually. If it looks like the person is getting annoyed with me, though (like I'm talking to someone I don't know very well, and the interruptions seem to throw them off), I'll stay quiet longer.

My boss has yet another style, where she likes to do monologues about something that has irritated or worried her, and mainly I'm just supposed to sit there and nod, occasionally throwing in short, supportive comments. Another co-worker is "the Arguer" who will turn every conversation into a battle even if she actually supports what you're saying; and I'm "the Agreer." The boss likes to talk to both of us in turn, depending on her mood.
~Lynn2000

EllenS

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #54 on: April 22, 2013, 01:12:06 PM »
Example (ridiculous example totally made up off the top of my head):

Me: This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus, and she said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game and since she was so grateful for the work I did for her today, she gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"

Bad listener (BL): "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
Me: "The woman who was riding the elephant."
BL: "Riding an elephant? How come she was riding an elephant?"
Me: "Because she's in the circus. I told you, she rides elephants in a circus."
BL: "This is a friend of yours?"
Me: "No, a client at work I told you."
BL: "So how come she is giving you tickets to the hockey game?"
Me: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

And so on.

Even though I am the less-talkative one compared to DH's family, I will interrupt him sometimes because of the way he tells stories. He would start the example story above, with:

DH: "And on the fifth day God created Elephants.  There are African elephants, and Asian elephants.  And, actually, my very favorite type of elephant is the kind you get in animal cookies - I like to bite the trunks off, first.  But not if there are any real elephants around, because their poop smells like rotten peanut butter, it really puts me off my appetite.  Speaking of which, we could get you a peanut-butter sandwich if you haven't had enough dinner.  That's what my mother-in-law always used to say if she thought someone didn't like her cooking..."

And you would get to the hockey tickets sometime next Tuesday.  So I interrupt and say something like, "could we jump ahead?" or "I thought you were going to tell me something that happened at work today?"
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Yvaine

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2013, 01:21:08 PM »
I have one friend who I specifically have to tell, "Please give me the short and easy version." Because the long version, even if the story is about running out of milk, will somehow involve long-winded conversations he had on the Internet and technical jargon about ships. Don't ask me. But I know him really well and so my telling him to keep it short isn't really rude in this one context.

turnip

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #56 on: April 22, 2013, 01:38:42 PM »
DH and I tend to be on opposite sides as the OP.  In my family there is a lot of interrupting and interaction.  In DH's family, and with DH in particular, someone speaks ( I tend to think of them as 'lectures' ) for as long as they like, going off on innumerable tangents, and any interruption or even active feedback ( "Oh, I also enjoy peanuts on salads" ) are met with a kind of affronted glare.   

IMHO, there is a problem in that we are all taught from an early age that it is 'rude to interrupt'.  It is a true and good lesson and I agree with it.  However we are not well taught the corollary that it is rude to dominate a conversation and allow no one a chance to respond.  That is a little fuzzier, but it'd be nice if there was some sort of rule-of-thumb like "Make one point and then let other people have a chance to give feedback before moving on".

I find it exceedingly frustrating, particularly with the tangent-ing, because a talker may start on a topic I have opinions on ( e.g. software-piracy ) but before I've had a chance to give my opinions and experiences they've moved on to real-live piracy and the social conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Raintree

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #57 on: April 23, 2013, 04:35:17 AM »
The solution is, because you can't change others only yourself, that if you find this happens, change how you tell the story. Say the meat part first and don't just give a speech - do actually allow for questions along the way because remember a conversation is a back-n-forth and a big block of just speaking is unlikely to hold their attention.

You: A woman gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"
Listener: "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
You: "This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus. She said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game.
Listener: ""So how come she is giving you the tickets?"
You: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

Same information but presented differently you have drawn your listener in with curiosity instead of rambling on before you get to your point. Because honestly starting off with a story about a random stranger and their life, can be a boring prospect. But starting off with an exciting offer opens up to intrigue. People want to know how the story you are telling pertains to them. Maybe its about someone they care about, or a place or topic they are interested in, etc but its has to hold their attention if you want them to listen. A random woman who came into someone else's workplace doesn't pertain to them at all so they tune you out. Asking someone to go to an event does pertain to them so they are drawn in.

I agree, and perhaps I gave a bad example. I know what you mean, because my mother's conversational style, if she wants to tell me about the free hockey tickets, would be:

"I was on my way to the grocery store, because I was home and about to make soup, when I realized I hadn't bought any carrots the last time I went. And I had to visit the doctor up there anyway, so I thought I'd combine it with a trip to the grocery store. And then I ran into a friend, who I used to work with at Acme Corporation, but she retired a long time ago and I haven't seen her in 15 years. She and her husband have just split up and she was grocery shopping for her new home. She said she had met a woman who rides elephants in the circus, and this crazy thing happened and she ended up giving her free hockey tickets, because apparently the woman who rides elephants doesn't like hockey...."

I don't think I'm THAT bad!! But sometimes I have to give a SMALL amount of background info for the story to make sense. When I hit the key word of interest, I'm met with "Huh? How? Who? What are you talking about?" which necessitates my going back to repeat from the beginning.

Interesting thread and different takes on conversational styles.

Hmmmmm

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #58 on: April 23, 2013, 11:04:04 AM »
^^
In college I took creative writing class with a professor who loved a Barogue style of writing. He wanted your prose to be overly dramatic. I found the style tedious and difficult for me. I wanted to "just get to the point".

The next semester I took a business communication class. I was giddy with excitement because the class required you to state the point of the communication up front and only include relevant information. 

I find I edit my speech in a similar fashion. 

WillyNilly

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Re: How do you converse?
« Reply #59 on: April 23, 2013, 11:21:48 AM »
The solution is, because you can't change others only yourself, that if you find this happens, change how you tell the story. Say the meat part first and don't just give a speech - do actually allow for questions along the way because remember a conversation is a back-n-forth and a big block of just speaking is unlikely to hold their attention.

You: A woman gave me two free hockey tickets! Want to go?"
Listener: "Free hockey tickets? Who gave you hockey tickets?"
You: "This woman came into work today, and told me she was a professional rider of pink elephants in the circus. So I was chatting with her about the circus. She said she had once been in a show and this tightrope walker fell 300 feet and landed right on top of her elephant! Luckily nobody was injured, but as compensation she was given all these free tickets to the hockey game.
Listener: ""So how come she is giving you the tickets?"
You: "Because she was extra happy with the work I did."

Same information but presented differently you have drawn your listener in with curiosity instead of rambling on before you get to your point. Because honestly starting off with a story about a random stranger and their life, can be a boring prospect. But starting off with an exciting offer opens up to intrigue. People want to know how the story you are telling pertains to them. Maybe its about someone they care about, or a place or topic they are interested in, etc but its has to hold their attention if you want them to listen. A random woman who came into someone else's workplace doesn't pertain to them at all so they tune you out. Asking someone to go to an event does pertain to them so they are drawn in.

I agree, and perhaps I gave a bad example. I know what you mean, because my mother's conversational style, if she wants to tell me about the free hockey tickets, would be:

"I was on my way to the grocery store, because I was home and about to make soup, when I realized I hadn't bought any carrots the last time I went. And I had to visit the doctor up there anyway, so I thought I'd combine it with a trip to the grocery store. And then I ran into a friend, who I used to work with at Acme Corporation, but she retired a long time ago and I haven't seen her in 15 years. She and her husband have just split up and she was grocery shopping for her new home. She said she had met a woman who rides elephants in the circus, and this crazy thing happened and she ended up giving her free hockey tickets, because apparently the woman who rides elephants doesn't like hockey...."

I don't think I'm THAT bad!! But sometimes I have to give a SMALL amount of background info for the story to make sense. When I hit the key word of interest, I'm met with "Huh? How? Who? What are you talking about?" which necessitates my going back to repeat from the beginning.

Interesting thread and different takes on conversational styles.

Well sometimes if you want to give a bunch of background you can give a teaser bit of info first. Maybe you don't want to lead with the hockey tickets because you think the background is interesting but you can still open with "I got really exciting offer today!" or "can I tell you a funny story?" or "ok you'll want to hear this - bear with a moment's background though" or "oh my gosh I totally thought of your today" - these openers let the listener know you aren't just rambling on about something random that happened, you are getting to a funny comment, or exciting news, or something that pertains to the listener.