Respectfully Yours: Monologuing
Dear Jacquelyn, I don’t want to hurt my cousin’s feelings, but she says the same thing at least three times but in different ways. I think she wants to keep the conversation going but I find it annoying. She will tell me that someone cut her off while she was driving and then she will tell me again, but in a different way. She does not suffer from memory loss. How can I politely change the subject?
Your cousin is failing to accurately read social clues. She is not paying attention to your non-verbal clues, turning you off by repeating the same stories revolving around her latest exploits.
When you are with someone who is going on and on, that dialogue turns into a monologue. A good conversation is all about the back and forth between two parties.
There is a clever way to get around listening to someone’s monologue: Ask questions. Asking questions is a great way to steer the conversation in any direction you would like.
When you notice her retelling the same story, redirect her to another topic. This will help adjust her train of thought just enough to stop her from repeating the same story.
Listening to the same stories over and over can be annoying. But, your cousin may be a jewel in other ways. Keep those attributes foremost in your thoughts. Wear your compassion on you sleeve. Each of us has flaws. Be patient and understanding about your cousin’s shortcomings.
Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of the National Civility Foundation.
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