I thought long and hard about whether to post this latest blog as I was worried some of my friends and family might think I was talking about them. So, to clarify to those who know me in the real world, this post is not aimed at anyone in particular. It’s just general musings from a life of conversations.
As a journalist, I have to ask a lot of questions. My life is irrelevant to the people I am interviewing. As a part-time university lecturer and a yoga teacher, I have to do a lot of talking and answer a lot of questions. As a friend, I try my best to get the balance right between listening and talking. That said, I’m sure that different friends would pigeon hole me into different of these categories, depending on the relationship I have with them. I might think they’re an over-listener, they might think I’m a me-me-me. Either way, I think we would all do well to think about the role we play in our everyday conversations and, if we find ourselves falling into any of these categories, work out how we can bring back some balance to our relationships with other people.
- The me me me
You know what they’ve had for breakfast every day this week. You know every tiny detail of what happened in their three-hour work meeting. You know where they’re going on the weekend and their plans for their forthcoming holiday. But they have no idea you’ve just had a promotion/got divorced/been in a car accident because they don’t listen to a word you say. “Will you quit talking about yourself for just one minute?!” you want to yell. “I’ve got some really good things to tell you if you’d just listen!”
- The anything you can do, I can do better
Whatever you tell them, they can always trump you. One-upmanship is their middle name, even if their story happened years ago or is yet to happen. You have a new car. They’re thinking about getting a new car in a year or so and you’re going to hear every detail about the pros and cons of all the different models they are theoretically thinking about. You won a tenner on the lottery yesterday. They won £50 seven years ago. Your baby had a sickness bug; their baby was obviously way sicker last week. “Okay,” you want to yell. “I get it. You’re superior to me in every aspect of love, life and the universe. I’ll get my coat.”
- The interrupter
Closely related to the first two types is the one who always butts in before you have finished what you were going to say. You begin to talk and they start talking over you, not even acknowledging that you were speaking first. You want to yell at them, “I was speaking first! Me! Just hear me out for once, will you?” But they’d never let you finish your sentence.
- The over-listener
They pride themselves on their wonderful listening skills, and indeed, they do listen well. They nod in the right places, they make you a cup of tea/glass of wine and hand you a tissue right on cue. But the reason they are so good at listening is because they never offer you anything of themselves. They never tell you their problems or confide in you. “Friendship works two ways,” you want to yell at them. “I need you to let me in to your life like I am letting you into my life too. I am a really good listener and very trustworthy too!”
- The over-sharer
Confiding in someone is key to forming a good relationship with them. However, there are people who over-step the boundaries when you barely know them, telling you about something way too deeply personal when your relationship is based on sitting next to them in the office canteen/yoga class/baby group for half an hour every week. “Woah,” you want to yell at them. “Too much information! I don’t even know your last name!”
- The bitchy gossiper
I openly admit, I love a bit of juicy gossip as much as the next person. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person. However, it all needs to be in moderation and delivered with an element of compassion, sympathy and general concern for the person involved. Some people, however, thrive on other people’s misery and misfortune. You want to yell at them, “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And as the old saying goes, if they bitch with you, they’ll bitch about you. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
- The phone checker
You’re pouring out you heart to them, or recounting a particularly funny story that you know would make them laugh, but they are scrolling through Facebook or posting something to Instagram, barely listening to a word you have said. “I’m right here in front of you in the real world!” you want to scream at them. “Shall I tweet you instead? Would you pay attention to me then?”
- The constant banterer
You could really do with a friendly ear right now, but everything becomes a dig or an innuendo or some kind of joke when there’s nothing funny about it at all. You want to yell at them, please, please, please take me seriously for once. There’s nothing funny about this and no need for another innuendo. Just listen, will you?”
- The polly parrot
You’ve heard all their best stories a million times over but they never remember what they have told you. Just as they start recounting a particular epic tale you say as politely as you can, “Oh yes, I remember you telling me this. How wonderful/crazy/sad/exciting.” They don’t take the hint though and carry on enthusiastically telling the tale in all its minute detail, completely oblivious to the fact they have already told you this story many times over. “I already know,” you want to yell at them. “You’ve told me this 10 times before. How can I switch you off repeat mode?”
Do you find yourself conversing with any of these types of people? Or perhaps you recognise yourself in some of the categories. Let me know what you think on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, or tweet me @cardiffmummy