May each of us help turn collective monologues into authentic dialogues
in which all in the room have a chance to be heard, understood, and questioned.
“Hey, Sam. How are you doing?”
“I’ve been better, Jim. Just found out I have to have surgery.”
“Surgery? Let me tell ya about my surgeries. That’s right, plural! Man, it started with ….”
And he’s off!
One person asks a non-descript question as an opening for him or her to speak about himself or herself. The other person answers but that makes no difference. Our monologuist has started down his or her path. The conversation, while it never began, is over.
Flibbertigibbet is his name. Jabberwocky is his game.
You’ve probably been around people who cannot NOT talk. No matter the situation, they do not engage in a conversation. Rather it becomes a diatribe about what they have experienced, what they believe, what they believe you should believe, or what they believe you should or should not do. A question by them to you becomes an opportunity for them to continue the monologue from their perspective–ad nauseum.
Perhaps you attempt to steer the conversation with a statement about yourself but the monologuist can only revert to inarticulate silence.
Why do people do that? (Why have you done that?)
I encouraged a discussion (conversation?) on my Facebook page (June 27, 2022) searching for enlightenment. I asked two questions:
(1) Why do some people have such a challenging time with conversation and (basically) ignore the people in front of them?
(2) How do you deal with such solipsistic behavior? (In fact, is it solipsistic or something else?)
Thanks to all who responded for their insights. They reminded me that each person brings a separate bag of issues, agendas, needs, and expectations to a would-be conversation.
Here’s a sampling of the wisdom those respondents passed along:
- “I think it’s deeper programming. I listen, and each time, I learn something new…”
- “I use expressions like ‘you made so many good points excuse me, but would you mind if I weighed in now? Let me know your thoughts on my perspective….’”
- “Loneliness can cause oversharing because they have been longing for connection.”
- “Passion can cause oversharing…I’ll hop up on my soapbox for a few key arguments, but I try to not be too long-winded.”
- “Dogma! We are surrounded by too many who are not independent thinkers. I encounter it every day. They regurgitate the tripe they hear from illiterate others who want them to follow blindly….”
- “…Add in social media that provides a perfect monologue platform and national examples around us of this style of communication and we are TEACHING—whether intentional or not—a monologue communication style.”
- “Honestly? For some, it may be social anxiety, and an inability, to figure out how to start a conversation.”
- “Some might be narcissistic, others might be insecure or lonely. In my experience, the vast majority simply don’t seem to realize that a conversation means an exchange of talking and listening.”
- “Having spent many an hour in bars and clubs being subjected to myriad conversations, I have learned that the people who speak the most are generally lawyers and teachers.”
- “I agree with the position that if it’s not a chronic irritation in your life, just be pleasant.”
- “My theory is that some people have a minimum number of words for the day that they MUST get out. Everyone’s minimum is different…I just think that they hadn’t had the opportunity to get those words out that day, and I helped them achieve that.”
- “Repressed doubt.”
- “Arrogance. They want to espouse their brilliance and are not interested in anyone else’s and afraid they cannot offer viable arguments to other views. “
- “Some people talk on and on and on because of obsessive-compulsive disorder or some level of that… Some behavioral conditioning and or lots of interventions about TMI may help.”
- “Ask questions and listen.”
- “Some people simply don’t know how to have a real conversation. It’s too bad because if I find myself just listening to someone without a question about my thoughts or my life or the opportunity to answer them, I’m less likely to want to spend time with them in the future.”
- “Some have been conditioned to not think, only repeat.”
- “I find the best way to deal with narcissism is to give them positive words like ‘yes’ and ‘I know’ and ‘that must make you feel…’ and just let them talk about themselves. Then extract yourself with grace.”
- “To the nonstop talkers, I listen, validate that I heard them, and move on. Why do some talk nonstop? Every brain is wired differently than the next, normal is just labeled normal because it’s the majority. It takes more than one color to make a rainbow.”
- “Another perspective: some non-neurotypical people do what’s called ‘info dumping’ as a method of communication and to show that they are interested in the listener. It’s a ‘look at what cool information I brought you!’ type of thing. So it may come across as a bit narcissistic or self-involved when in reality it’s just their method of being friendly.”
- “Fear, fear, fear. Fear of the unfamiliar. Fear of the unfamiliar also within the self.”
- “Fear of not being seen or fear of being seen…the fear that no one will listen, fear that everyone will listen…fear, indeed. And what to do when you encounter this? Well, in my experience, love them anyway. Hold space for them to feel their fear—don’t match it, just allow it. Don’t fix it, just love them anyway.”
I am taken by how many of the above responses connect to critical thinking skills and civility. You attempt to listen, question, be heard, be kind—and if that doesn’t work graciously move on.
Critically thought-out conversations are crucial to our society. Something we have to continue to master—and according to some of the responses above, backup and relearn.
Thanks to all for sharing. May each of us help turn collective monologues into authentic dialogues in which all in the room have a chance to be heard, understood, and questioned.
Keep making a positive difference!
Celeste Headlee reminds us that “we are not listening to each other” and that we have lost the balance needed for a conversation.
Make it a wonderful week and HTRB has needed.
You will find my latest book, Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit, in
eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.99) format. Click here.
My dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. Please, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
- Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program uses the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
You can find my podcasts (all fifty episodes) here.
You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
All photos by Steve Piscitelli. The Growth and Resilience Network®
©2022. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Atlantic Beach, Florida