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Friday 26 October 2018

Tips for the Conversationally Averse

Hang in there, just a few minutes more...nod now, make that eye contact, give that understanding smile, tut-tut and look down sadly, swear with feeling,'What rubbish!'  or 'No seriously?' or 'Don't know what the world is coming to!' or 'I don't believe this!' and if you aren't sure, 'Tell me more...', always works!

Do you have the attention span of a 2-year old or do you wonder if it might be ADHD? Why there is even a phobia called glossophobia that you could be slotted under!
You aren't conversationally awkward but you'd rather steer clear of conversations that are zzz-inducing! Happier with a zip on the lip and over the ears too if possible.
Well, whatever, till diagnosed, you are out there in the open with no reprieve from compelling conversations. 
Talking about conversations, there could be various kinds you know...but I am talking primarily of ones involving your physical presence, the kinds which you cannot wait to tear yourself away from.

Conversations with a monopolizing speaker.
Many conversations are besieged by a speaker on his relentless monologue expecting no exchange from the audience.
Conversation bullies can be a blessing! While the said person takes control of the conversation, you can happily let your mind wander, observe the speaker or the audiences' individual tics, mannerisms, clothing, the room decor or simply transport yourself to another zone altogether. Actually, this is a pretty calming situation, meditative even if the speaker has a pleasant droning audio. Occasional head nods and looks of absorbed interest can see you through the evening quite successfully.
On the other hand, you've got to be wary of such monologues because there might be a twist to it with the speaker throwing off-hand questions to the onlookers at the end of his repertoire. This kind of rude interruption to the drifting mind is pretty unwelcome I'd say. Beating a hasty retreat in search of gastronomic or spirit-fueled refills comes to the rescue. 

Conversations in large gatherings that involve active participation.
You can well imagine how tedious it is to hang on to the words of each person in a party of say...twenty members, especially when the topic is nothing you like or relate to and you are constantly dreading the words, 'So what do you think ...?' asking for your personal opinion.
Thankfully most soirees comprise of persons, totally in awe and in love with their own opinions and voices, so you can shake off any awkwardness with a li'l bit of attention to body language and facial expressions...anyday more interesting than the talks, I daresay! 
You gotta watch for the most vociferous voices, the most antagonized faces, the most exuberant expressions and decide your course of action with, 'I totally agree with Mr. Vociferous' or 'I think Mrs. Antagonized does have a point there' or 'Ha,ha, are too good Ms. Exuberant!' 
However, to pass off as an avid participant, one cannot merely agree to all and sundry opinions expressed. 
You've got to shake things up a little, irrespective of what the ongoing conversation is about. Challenge Mr. Vociferous with a, 'You really think so?' and 'Can you prove it?' and stand back and enjoy the fascinated hushed horror of the audience.
You could make a contribution to the tryst with your own compelling statements by preparing beforehand on good ol' politics and all sorts of trivia news. The escaped whale from the Japanese aquarium that no one would have read about or titillating snippets from Hollywood/Bollywood. Choose topics that are self-sustaining, entertaining, no-brainers that enlist your own foray into the convo and ensure a swift escape therein.

Conversations in intimate gatherings, with limited participants.
Well, these are definitely challenging. You can help your cause here with some prior screwing with the background music if such a back up exists, and thereby plead noise pollution as your excuse for not being in sync with the proceedings, lame but hey, it helps! Another helpful tip is asking The Q, 'So Mrs...tell me what's going on in your life?' or 'So how are the kids/maid/body pain/exercise regimen....?' You get the drift? That should give you sufficient time to zone out. 
Then of course, you have the trusty, faithful mobile phone. Set alarms to go off at frequent intervals so you get justified time-outs to recharge those mental faculties overburdened with facts and info they were never meant to hold. Yes, mobiles are boons of tech to minds like a sieve. You come back to the field rejuvenated from the break having imbibed a few lines of 'shayaris' to be casually delivered or crack a few well-rehearsed 'impromptu' jokes, and voila, you've made your mark!

And then the most lethal kind of conversation, the one-on-one kinds.
The ones you absolutely abhor! The situation where you are faced with a speaker akin a predator with unwavering watch over his prey....yikes, the mere visual sends chills down your spine, doesn't it? The predator, I mean the speaker, expects you to hang on to every word of his with the same intensity that he is delivering them with and does not miss the slightest signs of waning interest from you. If you are spotted looking diverted, he gets irritated but to be fair, he decides to forgive you and restarts his narrative....oh God, no, no, no! Best recourse, chew the bullet, focus all your energies on following his narrative the first time itself.
Ideally, I would suggest that you inveigle yourself from such situations but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. See, you are tough, you know that. But there is no fortitude in putting yourself through such haranguing situations and so, you've got to get going...move out of such situations pronto.

Then we come to the point, aren't conversations about dialogues, mutual exchange of words and opinions between people, preferably voluntary? The key operative here of course would be, voluntary. Given a choice, you would not volunteer to be a part of a conversation, either physical or over air-waves that does not interest you, now would you? Phone conversations, ahh, they are an altogether different cuppa, to be savored over another time. 
You see, it is just a personal choice - Happier reading or hearing words and opinions than vis-a-vis being in the frame yourself! 
A good choice I would say considering, most people like it best when they are speaking and seldom interested in listening to anyone else. And if they do listen, it is with the intent to reply.

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."
- Steven Covey (1932-2012)

Disclaimer: The above post has been authored on a lighter vein for literary purposes only. All tips and opinions expressed are the author's own and should be followed at the reader's own discretion and risk!

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