Is this what you call a conversation?

While standing in line at the bank today, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the two women standing in front of me.

The first lady asked the second lady how she was, and the second lady replied by saying that she had been hospitalized for three days the week before.

The first lady reacted by saying, “Oh, that’s too bad. Have I told you we’re set to leave for Greece this week?”

She then spoke non-stop until the bank teller called her number.

This scenario triggered a memory of someone I loathed back in college.

Lets call her Claire.

Claire was the worst conversationalist in the world.

Every attempt at conversation with Claire was met with constant interruption and the need to redirect the spotlight to her.

“Hello” and “How are you?” were just formalities Clare used as conversation starters.

She didn’t care to listen to their responses.

Much like the lady in the bank, she would ask how I was, and follow up with what seemed like hours of self related banter.

It didn’t matter what I wanted to discuss; be it a new boyfriend or a personal crisis.

None of it mattered to Claire.

The minute I said more than two sentences, Claire would interrupt and say, “Okay, enough about you. Lets talk about me.”

To this day, I still wonder why I put up with the likes of Claire.

Perhaps it was because her brother was hot, or the fact that her mother corrected our English papers.

I don’t know.

What I do know was that having a conversation with her was like having one with Winnie the Pooh.

(It’s all about me, me, me!)

But back to the women at the bank…

Their conversation reminded me how the world is filled with conversation hogs; a term that communication experts identify as “a person who monopolizes a conversation.”

If you’ve ever been held hostage by a conversation hog, you know there’s no way to get a word in edgewise.

Because conversation hogs don’t converse.

Instead, they corner their victims and force them to listen to their monologues.

They occasionally ask questions, but it’s all a ruse.

They don’t give a rat’s ass what the reply is when it’s not coming from them.

They talk a mile a minute, and if by any chance the other person manages to squeeze in a word, they lay in wait for the tiniest pause in the conversation.

At which point, they jump back in with such force, you don’t know what hit you.

A few minutes into their monologue, you feel your head start to spin, your ears start to buzz, and your eyes start to droop.

No, you’re not suffering a stroke.

It’s worse. You’re undergoing the effects of a conversation hog attack.

You’ll feel the effects immediately; it’s almost like being bit by a scorpion.

You start to feel lethargic and know it’s only a matter of minutes before you’re dead.

Dead of boredom.

As your eyes continue to glaze over, and your tongue starts to feel thick, you wonder why you didn’t see it coming; you ask yourself how you could’ve prevented this from happening.

At this point, don’t waste your last vital minutes questioning what you could’ve done, and instead, think of how you can still break free from the conversation hog’s clutches.

The lucky few who have survived the onslaught report that the first two minutes are critical.

If you suspect you’re in the presence of a conversation hog, you must find an excuse to exit, and put as much distance as you can between the both of you.

Do not attempt to engage in verbal or physical altercation of any kind.
Do not provoke the conversation hog.

His or her sting is lethal. I repeat, lethal.

Instead, the second the conversation hog stops to take a breath, run.

Do not stop to alert the authorities or seek medical assistance.

Just run and get the hell as far away as possible.

If however, this takes longer than expected and you feel yourself going into anaphylactic shock, loudly exclaim, “Oh, I have to go to the restroom!”

Be warned that even then, this may be met with resistance from the conversation hog and you may be prompted to “hold it a bit longer while I finish telling you this.”

Neutralize this threat by interjecting, “No! I have the runs. But wait here and when I get back, I’ll show you pictures of my husband’s/ wife’s hemorrhoid surgery.”

This will usually deter the conversation hog from any further attack and thus allow you to break free.

On a side note, in the future, it might be a good idea to have similarly disgusting scenarios you can use as deterrents.

Remember, the more nauseating they are, the higher your rate of survival.

Good luck!

Have you ever been the victim of a conversation hog?
How did you defend yourself?

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47 thoughts on “Is this what you call a conversation?

    1. OMG, Louise, this girl is too much! hahaha! I have to practice “the face” in the mirror and start putting in effect pronto! :)

    1. Lori, thank you! I think the sneezing can be extremely effective too! Hmm….adding it to my list of “secret weapons!” :)

  1. Bella, Bella, Bella. I have had to deal with a ton of those hogs all throughout grad school (look at me talk, like it’s been years since I finished that!) But seriously, it’s so hard for me to make friends now because it seems like people just want to talk about themselves. Even in conversations with bloggers, it seems that no one is genuinely interested in knowing others anymore, which sucks. So, yeah, I don’t like to waste my time with people like that anymore. I b

    1. Laura, good for you! Like I always say, life is too short to waste on toxic folk! :) And you’re right, all some people want to do is talk about themselves. Whatever happened to “we have two ears so we should listen twice the amount we talk?” :)

  2. Oh my …I was able to picture someone just like this in my life – and I’m wondering why I tolerate it. Thankfully the ‘hog’ doesn’t live in the same town but I do get calls which I try to avoid taking. I must get the person to read this…..;)

    1. Corinne, start scanning those calls, lady! I would not give that person the time of day! I’m just saying! :) Maybe you can anonymously forward a link to my blog post to the person! hee hee!

  3. Amen, Miss Bella. I tend to go numb from the inside out, possibly I drool, then if really bad I feign some sort mental illness, maybe fall to the floor and shake, rattle, and roll. OK, not really, but I REALLY WANT TO. Mostly, I ask lots of questions and let them talk and do whatever I need to do in my own head. I know this sounds so strange from a writer/blogger that writer in first person, but I tend to be quiet and reserved ( until after the first glass of wine or conversation).. really truly. On a serious note, I once had a friend (not longer such) that did that to me, and because I we had history I endured… until I left the friendship drift. Wonderful post.

    1. Thank you, Brenda! I too am guilty of drifting apart from “friendships” like those. It’s not worth the headache of trying to drone out their voice as you “do whatever you need to do inside your own head!” I can’t multitask like that so I take my hat off to you! Hey, feigning a convulsion is a great way to stave off the hogs! Now why didn’t I think of that? hee hee!

  4. Defend yourself? Come on Bella. Why is it that people feel the need to be polite and listen to such people? Why continue to act interested if you’re not? Talk to the hand baby! I would rather lie and move on. Better to be direct say that it was nice to meet you but that you need to go (wherever that may be – to the loo, to get your mammo, to the dentist). Action speaks louder than words, you know.

    1. Rowena, you assertive, empowered sister, you! But hey, everyone, needs a little defense plan and going to the bathroom was mentioned in mine! That said, I’ve been practicing “talk to the hand” in the mirror and I have to admit that when I don’t crack up, it looks feisty! hee hee! :)

    1. Jann, unfortunately I have gone out to dinner with one, and lets just say that I imagined more than 100 ways I could use my butter knife! :)

  5. That is one of my greatest pet peeves, and one of the instances where I’ll behave with semi (or full) rudeness myself. I’ll start by looking away and refusing to respond, both verbally and non-verbally. If that doesn’t work, I just stare at the person with intolerance bordering on contempt. If the person is still blathering on, I’ll extricate abruptly, in any way possible.
    Great topic, Bella!

    1. June, you and Rowena are the best role models! I want to be just like you! :) Now I have to go and practice my “staring with contempt” in the mirror. When I’m done mastering these techniques, I’m going to be a force to be reckoned with! (As I’m sure you already are, lady!) :)

  6. Great advice- if you can’t run, claim the runs!

    One thing I’ve found effective- at least it has warded off death so far- is to sneak in a completely non sequitur remark when the Conversation Hog pauses (you must be quick- those pauses are brief!). The CH doesn’t notice, of course but it is at least mildly amusing until you are able to escape.

    1. Lynn, you’ve made me laugh! I’m going to have to make a list of non sequitur remarks and carry it in my purse with me! Thanks for the tip! :)

  7. When I encounter such person, I do my best not to encourage them. I look absent (not hard to do). I don’t respond. I stand or sit or whatever quietly and don’t say a word. Sooner or later they excuse themselves and leave me alone.

    In my experience, it’s your response they want; if you look agitated while trying to run away, it’s enough of a response to them, and they keep talking.

  8. Good Morning Bella –

    My comment is tangent but a cousin of your conversation hog. Around the gym I go to daily, I hear many “gossip hog” types. They talk to whom ever is kind enough to not blow them off. One type of “gossip hog” I see often, is the wife/husband talking negatively to others about their spouse. In many cases, their spouse is also a member of my gym.

    Now I’m not commenting that they say, “Mary took the kids to the park yesterday.” I’m talking about all the trash talking, the degrading, the “look at how bad she is” … or … “he’s such an idiot and I hate him because of…”. That kind of stuff.

    It’s not like a woman and her BFF are chatting quietly at Starbucks and discussing on a very personal level, relationship concerns. The men and woman I’m commenting here about, will trash-talk their significant other to many people. People who are available at a given moment whom will shut up, stand there, nod their heads in agreement, of gasp “No way. What a bum/bia–!”

    I find those types of people undesirable and I avoid them when ever possible. Like your “gossip hog”, I run fast. Busy-busy Charlie, lol…gotta fly. Happy Tuesday to you. :)

    1. Charlie, happy Tuesday to you as well! Oh, the gossip hogs. They’re a bad lot and in a category all by themselves! Now those I feel I can employ Rowena’s “talk to the hand” technique with! I have no time for gossip period. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Bells, not only do I speak in a LOUDER voice to combat the hog and Claires of the world, but you might want to start practicing a nasal or piercing-sounding voice. Something truly obnoxious, designed to make her skin crawl and stop her words in their tracks. Warning: It’ll be hard to keep yourself from bursting into giggles.

    1. Monica, just reading about it is making me laugh! You girls are tremendous! It’s incredible the stuff we women come up with when we bond together! Beautiful! And yes, I will be practicing my nasal, whiney, piercing cackle tonight! Poor Significant Other! :)

  10. I think it’s important to interrupt and say something shocking like, “I’m no longer wearing underpants in the summer” or “Something smells funny” (sniff,sniff) or Madonna’s stopping over later. Anything outrageous or ridiculous. It’s a challenge with an element of surprise that’s supposed to stop them in their tracks. You might even have to do it twice!

    1. Marcia, I like the zinger-like effect an outrageous comment might have on a hog! “I’m no longer wearing underpants in the summer” is most definitely a keeper, as long as the hog isn’t a man! hee hee! :) Thanks for the great suggestion!

  11. The worst kind of conversation hog is the one who has to one up you. For example you say: “My cat had a huge hairball and had to be admitted to kitty er.” Ms One-Up-You replies: Oh, that’s too bad. My cat had a hairball the size of a Volkswagen. We rushed her to er and they said she had the best hairball ever……”

    1. Bernie, most definitely those are of the worst sort! I met and knew a lot of those when the Son was a toddler and I used to take him to the park to socialize with other kiddies. The snobbish moms were always there looking to gossip and making their children sound like the world’s latest prodigies. I’m thankful I never engaged in the “Do you know what my son did today?” conversations!

  12. This is a great post! I can so relate because I have a “friend” who is a complete conversation hog. She is constantly talking about herself, promoting herself. She doesn’t want to hear about me at all. She’ll only call if she has something to say and then is very upset if you’re not there to answer her calls, texts, etc. And of course she has no idea how bad she is. UGH!

    1. Leah, thank you for your comment and welcome to the party! :) I can’t believe how we seem to fall into the trap, time after time, with these high maintenance women who only want to hear themselves talk! I’m happy those days for me are over. Nowadays, other things take up my time. But you’re right, the toxic folk who become upset the minute you stop worshiping at their shrine are out there! Here’s hoping you can ditch her soon! :)

    1. “They make the conversation hog hostile” –this made me burst out laughing! I have seen Penelope from SNL and her whiney voice and the “so..,” is soo annoying! Argh! I could not listen to that for more than 30 seconds!

  13. I know so MANY conversation hogs! Mid sentence they will interrupt and tell you something completely different than what you were speaking about. They will follow you down the Mall – sentence by sentence, across the road similarly, and try getting off the phone? The old toilet trick’s not working for them. It is just so RUDE to not take turns and listen attentively in conversation and don’t even get me started on those people whose voices sound like megaphones!

    1. Absolutely, Elizabeth! The megaphone voice has to be the most annoying as well as those who interrupt to talk about something non-related to what the speaker was talking about! Worst of all, these folk seem to be everywhere!

  14. Ummm this type of girl is to be just as feared as the “One-Upper”.
    You know the one that just so happens to have a better story/better life/better example WHENEVER YOU TALK ABOUT ANYTHING.
    Kristen Wiig has done a character of the sorts on SNL.

    I have been required to recently work in close proximity with one at one of my jobs. I think I’m going to start coming up with ridiculous and outrageous things to say back, like going to outer space and going to the olympics for everything.

    1. Tricia, the one upper takes the cake! In all honesty, I don’t know how to listen to this type without cracking up in their face. Kenya included a link of the SNL character “Penelope” in her post and I laughed like crazy watching it! I lke your idea of coming up with outrageous things to say back! Crafty!

  15. LOL, hilarious! You’ve captured here in writing what I’ve so often felt when around these conversation hogs, though I’ve never articulated my sentiments. But enough about me… what do you think of my writing?

    I know a woman who calls me. A lot. It’s always about her crazy, messed up, loony, family. And they’re ALL screwed up. And there’s story after story after story…. And sometimes I’ll ever-so-gently place the phone down, go into the kitchen, sneak ice cubes in a glass, pour in tea or soda… then ease back to the phone to see if she’s still chatting (to herself). And if she if, I may quietly place the glass on a coaster and head to the bathroom…

    She has been known to say of me, “My friend Debra is such a good listener that sometimes I don’t even know if she’s there.”

    1. Debra, I am laughing my butt off at your comment! OMG, that is more than crafty! That’s super crafty! I love it! We should all be like you! I’m seriously going to try it the next time a hog calls me! :)

  16. Sigh, unfortunately it happens to the best of us. I have an old friend who is the definition of conversation hog. I will give you a wonderful example:
    Kim: What did you do today?
    Me: I went to meet with my lit professor who apparently graded my exam wrong..
    Kim: Oh. So I saw Adam the other day and he totally ignored me bla bla bla. blabla (Gee I wonder why)

    It’s terrible! I can only take this girl in small doses, good think i live far away from her now being we go to different colleges. Nowadays I usually say “hey listen I’m talking” or “do you have any idea what I just said?”

    1. Julia, good for you for being assertive now with this hog! I think it’s part of the human learning experience that every one of us come into contact with these conversation hogs. I belive it’s how we learn to be assertive and make ourselves heard. I’m glad your is living far away from you now! :)

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