I don’t know about anyone else, but lately, it seems that no matter the topic when I’m having a discussion with another person, it appears we end up talking past each other. It’s as if one of us is avoiding whatever is being discussed entirely. Not that the other person replies talking about dishwashers when I have brought up microwaves – they’re both appliances – but they have entirely different functions, and even pretending we’re talking about the same thing sometimes gives me a headache. When this occurs, I try to think of the possibilities as to why and I always seem to settle on at least three: The other person has no idea what I’m talking about; I haven’t been stated clearly enough what I’m getting at; They’re completely disinterested in what I have to say and only bring something up related, to mollify me long enough to walk away.
There may be other reasons, but these seem to come to mind first. What’s worse is when sometime later, the same person will bring up the exact subject to me, as if we were just beginning to discuss it in the first place? I then think, where is I go wrong ? I usually smile, then politically pretend I have something else immediately important and that I will of course, resume with them later. I never do and the person never approaches me again on the same topic. I’ve concluded that there are occasions when interactions with others are no more than a dance, to which neither of us know the steps.
I have no idea why, in the beginning, I don’t actually try and get past the first three thought with the other person. Maybe it’s because I’ve decided that no matter what, I’ll never be able to convey to the other person what it is I’m actually getting at, and if the person is uninterested, why expend the effort? When I was younger, this would have rarely been possible because I would have pursued the subject to exhaustion but today, when I can’t get past the most basic information, unless it’s vital in some way or other, then I just let it drop.
I’m not complaining, just making an observation from personal experience. When someone will not respond directly, but think they are by bringing up something that’s related, but not directly to point, is exasperating. Although the information they impart may be relevant in another context, it’s not in the current conversation. If those involved cannot even agree on the parameters, what’s the point? There isn’t one and it becomes increasingly apparent that not addressing each other directly, is an exercise in futility.
2 thoughts on “Talking Past One Another”
Do you find that this happens in real life (i.e., offline) or are you thinking mostly about Internet/social media communication? I ask because I find it far more common online. I do wonder, though, if the odd manner in which many communicate online will eventually show up in offline communication.
Mostly online, but there have been recent instances for me where this has happened in person.