Living with our knowledgeable, eager-to-share, amazing AS loved ones can be both wonderful and a bit of a challenge.
It’s wonderful to see them light up and sparkle. To see them delight in their subject. And to encourage the love of knowledge and share in the learning experience.
It’s not so great to see them shunned for monologue-ing about ONE topic. And it’s not so fun, quite frankly, to be the subject of information download. And we’ve all been stuck there at some point or another, pinned like insects, as someone goes on (and on) about their favorite subject.
I’m guilty of boring people about family, myself. I can even bore my family about family. Just ask my mother. Or husband. Or anyone. 🙂
But as for helping our loved ones, who can’t tell that their audience is yearning for escape, we can help them. It can be done.
We, as a family, limit “special subject talking time” to about 15 minutes a day. It may sound harsh, but think of it as training for life. Nobody wants to be with someone who only talks about manned space missions. Or dinosaurs. Or whatever.
Don’t get me wrong; we fully support the pursuit of knowledge. Knowledge is valuable. Even the act of gathering knowledge is admirable. So dinosaurs, drains, cattle migrations, space missions, the life and times of Batman… bring it on. The subject doesn’t really matter.
But variety in speech is a necessity. Or people – being people – will turn their backs, walk away, or even make fun.
We also encourage the asking of questions as an easy way to connect with people. It’s more effective than approaching someone and deluging them with information, and it involves them in the conversation. Questions like: “Do you like dinosaurs, too?” or “What is your favorite animal?” or “What are your thoughts on that” or even “What would you like to talk about?” Think of it as a taking of turns.
And if the other person changes the subject, it’s okay. Not the end of the world. After all, the conversation’s not over yet, and hey, look at how they’re enjoying talking to you! This means they’ll want to converse again.
It’s also good practice to remind someone, when he’s/she’s been going on for a bit, that it’s time he engages his audience (yes, we do phrase it this way, even to kids). And again, a question is usually a good way to handle this.
There are things we can do, too.
Being direct helps. For someone who has difficulty interpreting hints, tone of voice, and facial expressions, a direct and honest response is a godsend. And it’s appreciated.
After all, we’re not talking about idiots here. Just the opposite. We’re talking about intelligent human beings with feelings and capabilities.
We can also remember to resist the impulse to be dismissive.
Just think of all the times we’ve suddenly realized that we’ve droned on about children, dogs, cats, or whatever our favorite thing is for too long. The way it feels to watch someone’s eyes glaze over. It’s embarrassing. And just imagine if we didn’t notice “that look” and kept on going and going?
Giving others a chance to shine, to talk, to share… that’s what conversation is about. Give and take.
And for our loved ones, it’s essential that we help them learn this. After all, they want to connect. They just don’t know how.