Posts tagged ‘etiquette’

the subject changer. the interrupter.

The subject changer. The interrupter. No matter the conversation, they can turn it around so quickly it makes you wonder if all their cranks are turning proficiently. Most likely you know one, or many for that matter. One subject changer, unaware of his inability to follow conversation in a polite manner, told this little tale, “If my brother doesn’t like what someone is talking about, he’ll just change the subject.” Ah, if only the story teller could realize that this is what he himself was guilty of. But to live in bliss means having no responsibility for ones actions. And isn’t that where many people want to be?

Some people have no idea they are short circuiting the conversation, they think they are adding to it by sharing the wealth of their own experiences. This is an example of one of those interactions:
“I can’t drive over to your house for the party because I broke my leg,” says broken leg Sarah.
Meg replies,” I broke my leg when I was ten, and it was horrible. The doctor didn’t give me the right meds, he forgot I was allergic to it. I ended up breaking out in hives, which lasted three excruciating days. My dad left my mom the week after that.”
Now Sarah’s broken leg seems like nothing, and she would rather not have shared anything at all.

I think a great example of a subject changer is found in the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This show had been played numerous times in our house, it happened to be the kids favorite movie of the moment. One time, while I dashed in and out of the room with loads of laundry, I caught this scene playing on the screen: Charlie is building both the Chocolate Factory, and Willie Wonka out of toothpaste lids. Charlie’s two sets of grandparents are all sitting on a nearby bed.
Grandpa #1 comments on Charlie’s creation, saying, “It’s quite a likeness.”
“You think so?” asks Charlie.
“Think so? I know so,” replies Grandpa #1. “I saw Willie Wonka with my own two eyes. I used to work for him you know.”
“You did?” says Charlie with surprise.
“I did.”
“He did,” adds Grandma #1.
“He did,” adds Grandpa #2.
“I love grapes!” exclaims Grandma #2.

This struck me as being quite hilarious. I am not sure if the screen writer meant it this way, but it’s awfully close to real life conversations. Although, in this instance the writer may have simply been implying that the old woman was hard of hearing. I’ll just take it for what I want it to mean for now. And that is, some people just have an extra difficult time with social etiquette.

I have found myself guilty of doing just this. Maybe not completely changing the subject, but jumping in to share my experience. I grew up in a family where respectfulness of others was key. Maybe not behind closed doors, but out in public it was the law. After meeting certain people in my life, I found that if I did not speak up and talk about what was on my mind, I would never get a chance to. Everyone was so busy sharing what they had to say, or even worse, the content of the conversation was already somewhere far beyond my thought processes by the time things slowed down enough for me to speak. I began to find myself running over others in my exchanges elsewhere, whether they be deserving of it or not. I was frustrated. I had begun doing exactly what I had wanted to always avoid. Now that I have acknowledged my issues in this area, I hope that I can avoid being a subject changer/interrupter in the future.


May 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Tracy Dee Whitt - Author

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