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Changing the way you talk...

edited October 2006 in Learning
Have you ever tried to improve a mannerism of talking or change a cultural speaking style? It's tricky! Tell us about it here...

We were writing on the introduction thread when dod made an observation about himself as he was reading someone else's story...

dod wrote:
A personal trait of my own surfaced as I was reading your post. I thought I saw where it was going (you were walking towards a reflection of yourself) and responded to that before I had got more than half way.

I find I do that a lot of the time, especially when people are talking to me. I then take over their part of the conversation, just to ensure it goes the way I have anticipated.

dod, I agree that our mannerisms of style tend to take over, just to be on the safe side. :lol:

There seems to be a rainbow of timing and second-guessing that is much more distinctly divergent in people's styles of speaking than anyone would first imagine. Also, they can be surprising similarities. For instance, I'm from a Californian subculture - and dod is not. We Californians tend to interrupt other people to show that we are in rapport with others. We Californians as a group also tend to finish sentences and imagine where speakers are going with their important points of meaning.

CA speakers also allow others to interrupt us, and suffer possibly never getting out what we meant to say. We tend to allow ourselves to be too easily interrupted and distracted.

Nicholas (dod) and I would be a very exaggerated combination - because he would interrupt me, I would interrupt him, and neither of us would get out what we meant to say. In fact, we'd probably be incorrigible together!

Why change a thing such as this about the way we speak? Sometimes we are talking to others who speak the same language, but grew up in other subcultures. Where I live it's not as obvious as the differences between the Brits and USA cultures, but more unique and subtle. It's as if each person's family grew up in their own subculture. Someone might see interrupting as an example of disrespect. So, for people such as that, it would be handy to stop ourselves from interrupting others, or to just be flexible.

But...dod and I wouldn't want to do that. This situation used to happen to me quite a bit, and it wasn't even dod's fault. :oops:

Putting my challenges into a positive question, (another way I've changed my style of speaking) I'd ask something for that purpose like this:

How could I provide for the warm fuzzy feelings of rapport through interrupting and also remember what the two of us were saying despite having both gone gladly off on an interesting tangent?

One solution that worked for me was to temporarily carry around a little notepad. When I'd get interrupted, (or when I was in a group of people who all wanted to talk,) I'd write down my point. Then I could be patient until I could eventually get my point out, because I wasn't likely to forget something I'd noted. This exercise of using a notepad made me interrupt people much less and be more patient to hear what they were saying. It also made me unashamedly be interrupted and gladly follow any tangent. Eventually, my ability to retain my point past being distracted from it grew wider as my memory improved through the use of this notepad, and now I no longer needed the notepad for that purpose.


  • Hi Angel,
    I only just came across this and was delighted not to be the only interrupter! I am Swiss German by origin and come from a family of interrupters (there were 7 of us) - and we know how to handle it when we are together. During my training (to become an AT teacher) I was made aware of this, and more recently i have come across someone who is deeply affected (wounded, and angered) by my way of interacting with her.

    So I have had several reasons to question my way of conversing, and maybe try something else. And I have tried:
    I can now just sit back and listen - and actually enjoy not to have to think of something to say, or to remember what I wanted to say - simply let the other person speak. BUT: I have discovered that if the other person is someone who is anxious not to be interrupted, I could easily be sitting there for 2 or more hours, without being given the chance to find an appropriate moment to say - without having to interrupt! - that I now have to (want to) go and do something else.
    With others, it is rather interesting to inhibit the temptation to interrupt, and instead to observe and to take an interest in how the other person is expressing themselves, even if we could speed things up by finishing their sentences. And then to take my own time in responding. That is actually rather enjoyable - and a novel experience for me. Of course nothing need prevent me from having a quick-fire exchange with people who can handle it - and enjoy it - but what is nice is not be a slave of my own habit any longer but to have the choice to interrupt, or not to interrupt.

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