Loving Interruptions

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Dear Edda,

My girlfriend interrupts me all the time. When I’m working, she will walk into the room and just start talking to me. And then gets really upset that I’m not listening to her. When we’re having a conversation, she tries to finish my sentences, like she knows what I’m thinking. When we’re on a Zoom call with our families, I can’t get a word in. And if I do, it comes across really pushy and I feel embarrassed. We have been together a long time, and it never used to bother me. But lately it’s driving me crazy. What should I do?

Signed,
Silent One

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Dear Silent One,

This is a tough one. And I really hate tough questions. I like questions that are no-brainers or maybe ones that can elicit a smart aleck response from me, and I always like the ones that crack me up. There are advice folks out there who think they’re so smart that they can answer tough questions. I’m just a regular person, and frankly, your girlfriend’s behavior sounds really annoying to me. But heck, I’ll give it a shot.

Tell the chatterbox that you need to talk. Oh, maybe use a “talking stick”. You know, whoever is holding the stick has the floor. And no, you don’t really need a stick – it’s symbolic. You could even hold the cat. Or a bag of rice.

When you finally have the stick, explain your beef. Practice beforehand so you don’t get sidetracked by any other annoyances. This is not the time to discuss who ate the last tiny Snickers bar from Halloween.

Stick to the point, present the problem, suggest a solution that would make you happier. Use “I” statements (taken directly from the Psych 100 textbook I found on the office bookshelf) not “you” statements. We don’t usually talk like this, that’s why you need to practice. There’s a good chance she doesn’t know this is driving you crazy, so be nice.

Edda


Edda is not a medical professional but a local lady who loves to give out advice, even when it's not asked of her. Submit your question to [email protected] for Edda to answer.

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9 Comments

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USA in ruins Nov 14, 2020 07:05 PM
Loving Interruptions

Communication channels... Telephone, telegraph and tell a woman. Through the ages, some things never change. Let her talk.

shorebird Nov 14, 2020 10:21 PM
Loving Interruptions

Dump her. She doesn’t respect you. Life’s too short to be a nobody to your spouse.

oops Nov 15, 2020 08:05 AM
Loving Interruptions

This is as good as its going to get. If you can't stand it now, imagine 25 years of it!

Ahchooo Nov 15, 2020 10:14 AM
Loving Interruptions

She might not be aware she’s doing it. Some families operate this way, where everyone interrupts and it’s just how it’s done. Was she raised that way? It doesn’t necessarily mean she disrespects you. But you do need to explain to her that you’d like her to give you time to finish your sentence before she chimes in. But also consider, are you a bore? Do you drone on incessantly? Do you pause a lot, so she can’t tell whether you are done speaking? If you are a pauser, explain that to her, and ask her to wait a bit to see if you’ve actually finished your thought. Hopefully she’s just an energetic chatterer and will be happy to work on this, if you explain it nicely and without any accusatory tone.

doulie Nov 15, 2020 10:28 AM
Loving Interruptions

Before he finishes explaining his concern she will tell him she knows what he means:)

Lucky 777 Nov 15, 2020 02:01 PM
Loving Interruptions

I had an employee for years who felt it was his right to interrupt any conversations within earshot and add his two bits. He needed to convince everyone he was the smartest guy in the room. It was so tedious. A combination of insecurity and arrogance.

a-1605501028 Nov 15, 2020 08:30 PM
Loving Interruptions

I'm an interrupter. I know it, it pains me and I work at it. It's difficult to overcome life-long habits. Started with a know-it-all father who downplayed anything most people, and I, and my mother, and especially female people, had to say. He always replied with an implication of "of course. Who doesn't know that."
When I was in college he was so very pleased at my scholastic and intellectual accomplishments. We interacted a lot about my work and writing.
But the early interactions never left me. I always struggled to be heard. I think it comes from not being listened to. (And you wanna talk about mansplaining?! He didn't think I could use a computer, in late 80's, without knowing the difference between a bit and a byte! Does anyone need to know this to use WordPerfect?! Ask a question, get a dissertation. Thus, no questions were ever asked! It was not a good way to be raised.) Of course I didn't interrupt him. I didn't speak with him. I interrupted others, trying to be heard and listened to, because not being so was what I knew.
It IS a terrible habit.
Have a calm conversation with the interrupter, write your criticism/complaint out beforehand, have the talk with a mediator, be it family member, friend or professional.
Both parties need to work on communication techniques and be aware of their styles.
Good luck.

a-1605501253 Nov 15, 2020 08:34 PM
Loving Interruptions

Try the talking stick idea. It's a great technique. Use a stone, use anything.
https://www.consensusmediation.ie/toolfordifficultconversations/

PitMix Nov 16, 2020 12:54 PM
Loving Interruptions

People sometimes talk a lot because they are nervous about silences. And finish others' sentences because they think it shows they have been a good listener. Once they find out that they are not having the desired effect, they should be willing to change.....

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