Frustrating. Maddening. Irritating.

by Jonathan Wright

I’m not sure what’s to account for it, although I can make some pretty good educated guesses. Whatever the reason, it bothers me. And it happens so incredibly often.

What I’m referring to is the blatant, though often unintentional, erosion of politeness during personal conversations.

Yes, of course—I know there are more earth-shaking issues to discuss in the midst of today’s global turmoil, but maybe if we could be a bit more polite to each other, some of that turmoil could subside.

One of the worse trends I’ve noticed in the past several years is the tendency of folks to walk up to two people engaged in a conversation and to interrupt them. I find it hard to justify that unless the two people already involved in the conversation defer to the additional person and naturally draw him or her into it.

Without getting too technical, I think all of us can sense when an observed conversation is sufficiently intense, intense enough that the two would obviously prefer not being interrupted. If they keep looking at each other, trying not to break their concentration, then it’s probably a good signal that it would be best not to jump in with them.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been engaged in an important conversation only to be stopped in mid-sentence by someone coming up to us and interjecting a comment, a question, or something otherwise impertinent.

It’s especially frustrating when I myself have been polite enough to stand aside and wait for the other person to be finished talking. Usually I need only a minute or two for the discussion—and when I finally get an audience, it’s no time until someone else inevitably walks up merrily and ruins it all.

Apart from this irritating tendency is the growing habit of the person to whom you’re talking to interrupt you himself or herself.

At times I’m in the midst of making a very important point, and before I can finish my very important sentence—you guessed it: the other person interrupts me with a comment he or she apparently just couldn’t wait to share.

When the shoe’s on the other foot, even if the other person is boring me to death, I at least have the courtesy to hear him or her out. The only exception is when the conversation seems hopelessly interminable and just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere near a satisfying conclusion.

Such is the society in which we live today. I really don’t think most people have any idea of what they’re doing in such circumstances. It’s simply done so much throughout our world that no one thinks much about it anymore.

Maybe I ought to stick to Facebook and e-mail communication—at least I don’t get interrupted there.

Have a happy day, and may all your conversations today be satisfying—and uninterrupted.



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