Do you have one of those friends you keep talking over each other or interrupting at just the wrong moment? Or is there that one person you avoid because you feel like you have to put on a show because they so rarely speak up?
You may be experiencing a conflict in conversational styles.
Linguist Deborah Tannen described this phenomenon where certain people tend to be more externally engaged in a conversation by giving lots of verbal affirmations or interrupting to elaborate or clarify what the other person is saying, while other people tend to be more internal in their processing and wait until the other person has fully finished what they’re saying to respond, even waiting a moment to let it be clear it’s another person’s “turn” to talk.
This is the difference between Involved and Considerate Conversationalists. And like most things that exist in nature, including humans, there’s a spectrum of how involved or considerate someone is likely to be.
Me? I’m a Highly Involved Conversationalist.
My brain needs to feel engaged in whatever activity is happening, and that means externalizing thoughts in a lot of cases. When I intuit a more verbally involved style wouldn’t be appreciated — I’m that person nodding, rolling my eyes, and not really trying to hide my feelings in my face or gestures.
I tend to not have easy conversations with highly considerate conversationalists.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have internal processors as friends! I love how much I have learned from people in my life who communicate in this way — how to be a more patient listener and when it actually is better to be less externally involved in a conversation, chief among them.
At the same time, I have heard from many considerate conversationalists how much they appreciate my animated responses because it gives them *something* to calibrate against in the audience.
We all have to do some effort communicating with each other, and when we take some time to learn how others are comfortable communicating, we can all help ease that effort for each other.