You’re talking with someone about a game you both love. But whatever you say, he contradicts—scoffing, shouting, and rolling his eyes as if you’re the world’s biggest idiot. Running into an ex-roommate, you ask how she’s been. She replies—in a 20-minute nonstop monologue, never pausing to ask you a single question or let you remark. When conversations crash and burn, we often blame ourselves or whomever we’re talking to—assigning labels such as Naysayer or Snoozefest. But the social awkwardness that causes pain is often caused by pain. Interactive styles that started, under pressure, as survival strategies transform into conversational habits that others misinterpret as rude, weird, selfish, mean. For instance, someone who was mocked relentlessly in childhood because he lisped or loved breaking into song might adopt chronic near-silence for safety’s sake. What if we reframed awkward conversations as coded distress signals—dispatched from frontlines long ago and far away? When someone bores or interrupts us, can we pause—before thinking Bad manners! or What a dork! —to wonder why? Maybe that “bore” learned long ago, the hard way, to make only super-safe remarks? Maybe the interrupter had only two choices, back then: Cut in, or remain unheard? Such sleuthing could enrich… Read full this story
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