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The art of a good conversation!

(81 Posts)
M0ira Tue 15-Mar-22 09:03:45

Am I alone in thinking that a good conversation is when each person listens, then responds in equal measure?
So many of my friends, recently, have just bombarded me with all their woes and worries. Being a patient person I listen and wait my turn. Alas it doesn’t seem to come. Each encounter leaves me drained and less like wanting to meet up again.
Does anyone have any good tips for dealing with this one sided narrative?

Aveline Tue 15-Mar-22 09:16:28

It is a real problem isn't it? Our recent long sitting visitor treated us to a four and a half session of his life story, views, opinions and experiences. After he finally left DH looked at me and said 'He didn't ask us anything about us at all.' It was true. We did try to interject at times but with no luck.
Conversation has to be a two way thing unless one side has a real problem and needs to talk about that. Empathy is probably the key and not everyone always has that.

Chewbacca Tue 15-Mar-22 09:25:48

Not got any tips unfortunately but, if you find any, please pass them on. One of my friends just bombards you with information about her mental health, her physical health, how she's coping with it all and what her practitioners are doing about it. She can ramble on for well over 3 hours, barely pausing for breath let alone to ask about anyone else. I'm afraid she's garnered such a reputation for it now that several of us avoid meeting up with her.

Nonogran Tue 15-Mar-22 09:40:18

I have a family member who could talk about herself, her life & her child’s life all day long with never a pause to ask how me and my family are. I could be phoning her with sad or bad news but because I can’t get a word in edge ways. I could hang up or leave from a visit without imparting my news, because somehow I know it won’t be that important to her. She would bring the conversation back to her.

After years of putting up with it, I avoid her like the plague now.

This situation is not uncommon. I had the same issues with some work colleagues too.

tanith Tue 15-Mar-22 09:43:31

One reason why I don’t have many friends left those that did like to listen and enquire seem to of all died in the last couple of years 😥

Elless Tue 15-Mar-22 09:44:23

My thoughts exactly, if I start a conversation as soon as I have said my bit I automatically ask after the person I'm speaking to - how is the family, how are you, whatever. It is good manners and too many people don't have them these days.

Coastpath Tue 15-Mar-22 10:26:40

I wonder if Covid isolation has made people more absorbed with themselves and less used to being out in society and in conversation with others?

Or perhaps it's made us less tolerant of people who are constantly self absorbed bores who are a drain on our time, patience, good manners and energy?

Coastpath Tue 15-Mar-22 10:28:21

I'm so sorry to hear that tanith. flowers

tanith Tue 15-Mar-22 11:29:07

Thanks Coastpath it’s not been easy and not even getting to say goodbye was especially hard.

john19 Tue 15-Mar-22 11:48:36

its so common im afraid.sometimes people think your life is wonderful if you dont tell them your woes.listening is a gift but it often means you will get more calls to support people

sodapop Tue 15-Mar-22 12:07:35

We were treated to a lengthy day by day account of an Italian holiday, fortunately no photos. My husband said he doesn't need to visit the Trevi fountain now smile

Callistemon21 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:15:27

I have a friend who asks how my DC and DGC are, when I start to answer I can hardly get a sentence out before she starts telling me how wonderful hers are.
Why bother to ask? I don't go on infinitum so why interrupt in the first 30 seconds then give me a monologue?

Then there are the friends who are rather deaf and just keep talking over the top of you non-stop.

Callistemon21 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:17:19


We were treated to a lengthy day by day account of an Italian holiday, fortunately no photos. My husband said he doesn't need to visit the Trevi fountain now smile

We used to visit an aunt and uncle of DH and out would come the slide shows of their holidays .....
DH's Mum used to sit and nudge me and whisper "not Falmouth again" and I had to suppress my giggles.

Kate1949 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:29:40

I get fed up with people like this and I know several. You ask how they are and you get theirs, their children's, grandchildren's life stories and what the budgie had for breakfast and never ask how me or mine are.

Antonia Tue 15-Mar-22 12:36:00

Unfortunately there are many people like that. I once worked with a colleague, whom everyone liked.
I realized why, after a while. She never talked about herself unless asked, and she always started the conversation with asking about you.

Kim19 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:38:15

I come from the opposite direction on this. When I've chatted on a bit I purposely put in a 'how are things with you?' only to receive monosyllabic responses followed by silences. I then chat on again and do the same 'eg how are the kids?'. 'OK'. Now this is a dear friend I'm talking about and we have a long and colourful past. I decided to call less regularly and she's immediately emailing to check if I'm ok. Can't quite figure out what's going on there but, now that restrictions are being lifted, I think I'll need to make a long train journey.

Aveline Tue 15-Mar-22 12:40:58

I was very struck by one lady on my hospital visiting round who said, 'Well, enough about me. How are you?'. It occurred to me that it had never happened before. I suspect that social skills usually fall by the wayside as people grow older

Yammy Tue 15-Mar-22 12:42:12

We have friends and relations with who it is difficult to have a conversation over the phone. It is all their woes but usually ends up with all the jaunts they have been on even during the height of Covid.
Catch them on face time and they are completely different it is as if the face to face contact tells them they have to interact and not give a running monologue.
My MIL used to bore us silly with family photos of people who we hadn't a clue who they were. One DD when young asked what T.B. meant and when asked why she said all the ladies in grannies photos that had died of it , granny said she looked like them.

Mollygo Tue 15-Mar-22 12:43:53

My mum’ s mantra was what’s on the image. When we were young, she used to say we never let her get a word in edgeways.

H1954 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:44:34

I've encountered countless people like this, the worse ones are those that ask how you are and when you make comments about something being wrong they've had it worse than anyone else, their friends died from it, SIL is crippled by it etc etc.......I'm sure you've all come across people just like this.

DiscoDancer1975 Tue 15-Mar-22 12:50:19

I remember meeting a couple years ago from church. They were quite a lot older than us...more like our parents ages.

We invited them round one evening. The man asked us to tell a bit about ourselves. We had about 15 minutes. The rest of the evening was focussed on them.

I can’t remember how it went, but I’ve always been left with the feeling that we had a quick few minutes, and then we settled down to listen to them.

We were the ‘ warm up act’, they were the main production! 😗. Needless to say, we never spent another evening with them. Well...we didn’t need to, there was nothing else to say.

Elizabeth27 Tue 15-Mar-22 13:00:06

Maybe they are not real friends that do this, if they were they would have a genuine interest in your life.

You can tell who would be that way on here, a poster gives an account of their situation wanting advice or support and some members ignore the opening post and go into great detail about their situation or even write about something totally unrelated.

Caleo Tue 15-Mar-22 15:07:35

Some people come from a culture where it's improper to talk about anything seriously and feelingly, and aim to keep others at arms' length. The result may be verbal diarrhoea unless they are also genuinely talented at amusing others.

BrandyGran Tue 15-Mar-22 15:35:08

My problem is with a friend who constantly interrupts when a word I have said triggers off something she has to immediately talk about for a very long time! Sometimes I say when we meet"Let's not interrupt each other today". She agrees but it doesn't last long! When I complain to my DH he says you either accept her the way she is or you give up the friendship. I don't want to cause hurt but I find it all very exhausting!

M0ira Tue 15-Mar-22 15:40:35

So sorry, tanith, loosing some one you can have a really good conversation with must be heartbreaking.
That’s all we are looking for………that fabulous talk that leaves you both feeling refreshed.