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Someone Who Says Nothing

April 29, 2013

I’ve got a friend who is considered to be always talking, but never saying anything that I consider of worth. No matter the situation or the context, he never fails to disappoint when it comes to talking. It may be about something he saw on TV, a philosophical idea he thought up, or the latest idea for a story, book or game that he has dreamt up. However,amongst his friends, he is generally considered as someone who provides ‘background noise’ in any social scenario. Some of the social group consider him a friend, others consider him a tolerable fool, as his ideas are never that well-considered, and anybody playing devils advocate will generally shoot down his concepts quickly. In return, he complains about nobody ever listening to him, and people ignoring what he thinks are good ideas.

I could talk about how it is polite to listen, and he is fulfilling his own social needs, but this post is not about that.

In saying all this, I am not attempting to talk about him a negative fashion, as he is a trustworthy person. I think that he is just not picking his social audiences well enough. Every social group has someone who can constantly talk about things which no member of the group has a large interest in, but they ‘fill the gaps’ in conversation and carry the talk forward through a series of topics. The problem with this is that there are certain people of the group who have an ‘aversion’ (for lack of a better term) to specific topics. I wouldn’t talk to my overly sporty social group about video games or programming language unless I knew they were interested. I wouldn’t talk to my parents (or other people from an older generation) about exploits whilst out on the town, and I wouldn’t talk to a specific member or our social group about how they should arm the police more heavily unless I wanted a fight on my hands. On this note, the individual I spoke about earlier has no issue raising these issues with these social groups, and then reacts in a stunned fashion when people give him negative feedback.

I can’t say for certain where or when he learnt that this was an appropriate display of social skills, as I’ve only known him for a couple of years, but I can also see how our social group exacerbates the situation. Sure, by engaging him on topics of his choice we allow him to express himself, but we also give control of the flow of the conversation to him, as he gets to choose where the conversation goes. By being more proactive in the choice of topics, it would keep him reactive, allowing others to express their opinions about topics before he deigns to change the topic to his choice.

Having said all that, the point to take away from this post is to actively participate in the conversations you are in, otherwise you’ll be forced to sit there, be polite and listen. Whilst I approve of this when dealing with small children, adults are another matter. I’m not saying to go out there and dominate whatever your group talks about, but to be less passive and more assertive. It’ll improve the group dynamic as well as bolstering your confidence. It’d be like if Kaeris started to talk a lot more to Ramos.

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