I just wanted to mention something: I do not know how to inveigle my way in to a conversation.
“Inveigle”, apart from being a superb word all round – Wheedle, Entice, Persuade – is exactly how I see the process. I feel like I have to pull some kind of confidence trick on people in order to join in with what they are talking about. And this is people I probably know on some level.
Many people can have conversations as if they were a natural thing. I cannot. I don’t know how to get started. I don’t know how to engage with most people without them inviting me in to the circle.
And there are many very kind people who do precisely that – whether out of boredom of tedious gobshites dominating the discourse, out of the desire for inclusivity, or out of the genuine interest in something I might be able to contribute. These people are the permanent fixtures of my good books.
n.b. Rather than “inveigle” I was going to use “ingratiate” – Grovel, Cozy Up To, Curry Favour With – and that is a good paradigm for how I feel, too: as if I am begging for permission to be allowed to join in. I don’t think I should need to; I get told I don’t need to, but then I get told a lot of things.
I have done a good job over the years of shedding all of the people that I either hated or just didn’t want to see in person anymore. Call them friends if you will; I like them best on Facebook only. I am now in a position where I would welcome a bit of a natter with people who are similar to me. More so than the people I happened to end up sitting next to in Y7 Science or living next door to in halls.
I mean, I know I am fine without such companionship – I have a lovely partner, some children who are growing in to their minds, and a wider family, including a number of pets. Except that I do now come in to contact some with people I am happy to chat to on occasion; I feel the need to be able to let them know that. I need to let people know that my conversational shop is open for business.
You see, the thing is, that I come off aloof. Not ”a doof”; that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. I am crap at conversations quite frankly. Not only do I not know how to initiate conversations with people I have not known closely for years, I fail to respond appropriately when people try to engage with me. In my mind I have oceans of things I want to say; in reality I am functionally monosyllabic.
And it is starting to have negative effects. The more monosyllabic one is with the people they bump in to on a regular basis, the more those people are going to get the impression that that is one’s fixed state, and that one has no interest in speaking. Or that you’re a simpleton; idiocy is an option.
I have the inkling that it is having an adverse effect on my working life, too. I work remotely from the rest of the people on my team, and we frequently communicate by conference call. The thing is, if I cannot worm my slippery way in to a conversation with a bunch of people I am in the same room as, how on earth do I expect myself to do the same thing with a bunch of utterly virtual people? Badly.
You see, they are all in the same room as each other, so they can see the visual cues which indicate that someone in that room is about to speak; I have a delay on my line which renders such attempts at joining in quite awkward, with people speaking over each other, and volume levels making some people appear to be shouting. In any given meeting there will always be one person who does not care one iota that someone else wants to speak: they will railroad on regardless. I hate those ones.
Like I’ve said, the people I have known for years pose no issues regarding my ability to begin talking. I even have the ability to make conversations go in ways I want them, such is my ease with such situations. The same also applies to the little people I have had a hand in bringing in to this world.
I have been told that I talk too much to my children. At least once by my eldest daughter herself, but I suspect that she’s repeating something someone else has told her. Raising a child requires a parent to impart a great degree of information in to developing minds. If they’re not listening, this requires a degree of repetition. And children often choose not to listen. Discipline, when not violent, takes the form of discourse. It is important for a child to know why what they have done wrong is wrong.
So, at a time when I am finding myself speaking less and less – because I don’t know how to start a conversation with other parents in the school yard, or at a child’s party, because I don’t know how to make myself heard on a conference call or in a work meeting – I find it utterly strangling to be told that I am speaking too much with one of the few people I do not actually fear conversing with.
I’m not looking for a best friend for life – I have one of those already. I’m just looking for the ability to have a vague natter with random people I am pushed in to close proximity with, without feeling like I am paying the mill-owner for permission to come in to work. Odd analogy. I am looking for a comfortable existence where I do not exit every conversation drenched in my own sweat once more.
I am looking for the easy ability to strike up a conversation without ending up wittering something elaborately boring, or sensationalist, just because I have got carried away with the weirdness of being in a conversation. I am looking for the sensation of not being self-conscious when talking with any person ever. I am looking for an end to the myriad awkward silences which exist around me.
Once, a long time ago, an old friend of mine marvelled that I would not say a huge amount when we were in a group conversation, only to drop a bombshell, which made everyone either howl or think. I took this as being laconic; I liked that idea so much I think I wove it in to my burgeoning personality.
Sometimes I wish I’d not heard him, and just learned to drivel mindlessly like every bugger else.