Champing at the Bit: Dominating the Discussion
I’ve begun to notice lately that I have friends I talk over, that I don't give a fair chance to finish a sentence or complete a thought when we're having a conversation. I like what they’re saying so much that I jump in ahead of them and interrupt. I realize this sounds selfish, to enjoy another person’s conversation to the point you don’t let them finish it, but it’s the truth. I really enjoy the company of these friends, but I'm too eager to share my own thoughts to let them express their own - the epitome of rudeness.
The really troubling aspect is that I’m only like this with a few friends. One in particular, Rachel, is the sweetest and most level-headed woman I’ve ever met, and I love spending time with her. The last time I saw her, she began talking about two mutual friends who just started living together. I was so eager to discuss this situation that I interrupted her at the earliest opportunity.
“I had a feeling the two of them were going to get together,” Rachel began. “I’ve seen them at several social functions lately, and they didn’t appear to be just friends.”
I could tell she was going to say more. She took a breath, and just before she could launch into her next thought, I jumped in like a buffalo going for the kill. “I noticed it years ago,” I said in a tone that sounded almost superior. “When we all worked together at the country club. Their attraction was palpable.”
The light in Rachel’s eyes dimmed ever so slightly. She nodded, collected her thoughts for a moment and finished with, “Yes, that’s right. You worked with them. I’m sure you saw them together quite a bit.”
Immediately after, I felt terrible. I knew I had done something wrong, which extended beyond merely killing the conversation. I’d prevented Rachel from speaking freely. Of course that wasn’t my intent, but, for some reason, I feel helpless to stop myself around her. I don’t understand it, because she’s one of the dearest friends I have. And yet, I’m probably chasing her away with my insistence that I dominate every discussion we have.
Waiting My Turn
I have no explanation for this, no justification. However, I can say with absolute certainty that I’m ashamed of myself. Ironically enough, many people talk over me. It happens so often that I’ve grown accustomed to it. But it hurts, and I often feel like I can’t contribute to a conversation because nobody’s listening. Why, then, would I want to do the same to my close friend?
I feel with Rachel that I have license to talk and talk because she, unlike other people I know, does listen. She usually encourages me to spill my innermost thoughts and feelings because she’s genuinely interested. Maybe I’m so keen to do this that I forget she may need to do the same in return. In any case, I’m aware that I talk over her, and I must stop. Similarly, the other people I talk over need a chance to be heard (I know I often interrupt my mom as well). I don’t want to be the friend or confidante who doesn’t listen. While it’s nice to be able to express myself, sitting in patient silence and listening to another can be equally rewarding.