It’s Not A Competition: The Truth About Conversation Hoggers and One-Uppers
Sometimes you need to vent: About drama at work, relationship woes, that time the grocery store ran out of your favorite junk food when you were PMS-ing (not cool). Nothing excessive or too complaint-filled, just your average, everyday, “Let me tell you what happened” type of stuff. If you vent to the right person, they’ll listen and respond in an appropriate manner. They’ll laugh, nod, console – whatever the occasion calls for. The wrong person, however, will halfway listen until they hear some magic keyword that (in their mind) allows them to hijack the conversation. Worse yet, they’ll one up you time and time again. Allow me to explain.
If you had a bad day, they had the worst day in the history of time. Should you say something like, “You’ll never guess what happened,” they’ll bust out with, “No, you’ll never guess what happened to me,” and proceed to middle child your story. Good luck if it (or you, for that matter) gets any respect or attention at all.
Though I began with the example of venting, that doesn’t have to figure into the equation. Sometimes you’re just a-talking and there someone comes just a-taking over. And when you’re standing there all confused, pondering the intentions behind an overt conversation takeover, make no mistake about it – it’s not your fault. When you can’t get a word in edgewise and feel like you’re in a one-sided version of that ridiculous Key & Peele hat sketch (only nowhere near as funny), you’ve got yourself a problem. It’s not that their intentions are ill. They’re just not well-equipped to handle the art of conversation. And a little selfish. One-upping and conversation-hogging could be a person’s poor attempt at relating to you. Maybe the one-uppers and hoggers have a flair for the dramatic and like to have all eyes and ears on them at all times. Or perhaps they’re completely unaware of what they’re doing. Clearly, there’s a reason why the ones that go on and on ad nauseam simply don’t recognize when you’ve tuned out in order to maintain your sanity.
What’s funny is if you try and stop them, sometimes they make it seem as if you’re the one who’s not paying attention (though that couldn’t be further from the truth). Other times, though you think you were successful in getting them back on track to having an actual conversation, they pick up where they left off before you tried to stop them from going on forever and ever, Amen.
So what do you do when this happens? Do you:
A. Go with the flow
B. Pray to Jesus to take the wheel
C. Call them out for monopolizing the conversation
D. All of the above
Depending on the person, I usually do a combination of A and B, although I can’t say that either option has ever worked out very well. I find myself not wanting to be rude, much like the unintentional rudeness of the logorrhea perpetrators themselves. But conversation etiquette went out the window a long time ago. It died with the advent of texting, Facebooking and all things social media. And so, sometimes you just need to be blunt and direct. Conversations shouldn’t be like competitions. There is no gold medal to be won should you have the biggest, baddest, funniest or what have you, story to tell. We all want to be heard and acknowledged, especially by the people in our lives who matter most. But not everyone is a good listener and sometimes we have to be more discerning about what we tell and to whom. That way all parties involved can get what they need.