Interrupted

by Debbie Harris – On one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry dated a “low talker,” a woman who mumbled when she talked and people couldn’t hear her. Well apparently, I’m a “slow talker.” It seems I talk slower than others want me to because I get interrupted. A LOT. To them, I’m a tortoise-talker in a hare-communication world.

In our society, it seems that everything needs to go fast—the theory seems to be that fast means efficient. At one job, my supervisor answered dozens of questions that I wasn’t asking because she didn’t seem to be able to wait for me to finish my complete question. Aggravating.

At another job, I once went to my supervisor’s office to talk about an issue of concern. I got two sentences out before she started talking, and talking, and talking, until she ushered in another person and said goodbye to me. That wasn’t the end of the discussion. We met again a few weeks later in the ladies’ room during a break at a workshop, where she saw me coming out of a stall and began talking to me as she went into one. She continued to talk while I washed my hands and then (not knowing quite what to do) hung around the restroom listening to her talk while she completed her business. I didn’t get a word in edgewise, though I didn’t try very hard because of where we were. As they say in real estate, it’s all about location.

It can be interesting watching restless people waiting for words to come out of my mouth. If I hesitate, they sometimes offer endings to my sentences in rapid succession, which requires me to interject “no” over and over again until they stop trying to guess and actually let me finish my sentence!

It’s a frustrating way to communicate. I think that’s why l prefer writing. I can form my thoughts, express them in completion, and even edit them without anyone interrupting me. Aaaah.
I’m not sure if slow talking is considered a disorder, but if it is, it’s one of the few I haven’t seen a prescription for. Even if there were a prescription, I wouldn’t take it. A slow computer would at least be given time for a reboot. Give me a chance to form words!

I’m not completely sure if I really do talk slow, or if people are just impatient. Maybe it’s a little of both. But if I do talk slow, it’s because I usually have a lot going on in my brain. Apparently I have a mind with a lot of highways driving deep into dense territory. It’s a labyrinth in there. I’m usually in the midst of a spiral and I have to wait for an exit to get to out and onto someone else’s road. Once on that road I need at least a fraction of a second to reorient myself to address their issue. With all that going on, can you chill a minute?

On behalf of all the tortoise talkers like me, I ask you to set a New Year’s resolution to have patience and not interrupt when people are answering your questions. Let them finish their comments, their sentences, their words. You might hear something interesting. If not, at least you were polite.

Take care and Happy New . . . (uh oh, interrupted again!)

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