Sit back and listen to friend
June 15, 2012 1:26PM
Updated: July 17, 2012 6:00AM
Dear Annie: I have enjoyed a wonderful friendship with “Sharon” for the past eight years. However, lately she talks nonstop and interrupts me so often during conversations that the only way to enjoy our interaction is through email or by exchanging voicemails.
Sharon has always been a high-detail storyteller, going off on frequent tangents and being very involved in the narration. But in the past few months, her inability to stop talking is problematic.
I have tried talking over her, but she can outdo me in that arena. I have also become very still the minute she interrupts me, and frankly, she seems completely oblivious. I would say something to Sharon about this, but she is very sensitive, and I’d end up hurting her feelings deeply. Also, I have other friends I can lean on if I have a serious issue, so I don’t really need Sharon for this purpose. But her behavior is so annoying that I see no solution other than limiting our friendship, which is unfortunate because she is otherwise a bright, funny, enjoyable person to be with.
Sharon recently asked me out for coffee, and I am avoiding sending a response. Any words of wisdom?
Speechless in Omaha
Dear Omaha: You seem to have a good grasp of the problem: You don’t think telling Sharon about your unhappiness will garner positive results, but you still wish to maintain the friendship. Remaining silent while she prattles on won’t frustrate you so much if you recognize upfront that this is going to be the dynamic. Master the art of the benign smile. You are not there to converse. You are there to listen to Sharon’s amusing stories, which you apparently enjoy.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org