Dear Person Talking To Me,
Although I normally avoid sports analogies, I feel that a good conversation is like a game of table tennis or perhaps volleyball. I send a few thoughts to you, ping, then, pong, you send a few thoughts back, then, ping, I send a few different thoughts to you. The players want to keep the volley going for as long as possible, for once the ball hits the ground, the round is over.
You seem to think that a conversation is like a game of football. I throw a few thoughts your way, but then you grab hold of them and run as far as you can, shouldering aside anybody who dares step into your path. You might eventually reach the goal at the end of your wild tangent, if nobody chases you down, shoves you over, and pries the ball from your vise-like grip. When you get to your goal, you’ll probably even do a little victory dance, but will wonder why nobody seems to share your jubilation.
It’s because you monopolized the conversation and turned it into a lecture.
Now, I suspect you are probably unaware that you are doing this, so here are a couple of signs to watch out for:
- People begin to reply with short answers like: yes, no, I don’t know, I don’t remember, hmm, or huh.
- People begin to say things like okay or uh-huh whenever you end a sentence.
- People begin to say okay or uh-huh while you are in the middle of a sentence.
- People take on a blank, emotionless, fixed, glassy or vacant stare.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, dear Person Talking To Me, it’s probably time to surrender that ball. Please finish your thought in ten words or less, as I really don’t want to have to tackle you. That would be rude.
The Electronic Replicant