Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I Love You, But I Don't Want To Hear About Your Laundry

Dear Social Grace,

 I have a friend who is wonderful in most ways. But she has one serious flaw: an absolute lack of awareness of how (un)interesting her day to day life is, and she yammers on about it endlessly. If her voice were a bit more soothing I could seriously fall asleep while she drones on.

 She has a near constant need to inform me in great detail what she is doing--and trust me, her life is not that fascinating. I get a lengthy litany of her daily errands, her kids' homework assignments, her parents' ailments, the tedium of her job, her workout routines and her household chores. Aside from that she is a really good friend. She's thoughtful, generous, kind, considerate, helpful, supportive and in many instances, fun to be with. But this saturation is, well, saturating me. Help!

 Dear Saturated,

 I empathize. I really do. No one wants to function as a one-Grace stream of consciousness twitterfeed dump. I freely admit that this would drive me nuts. But go back to your statement for a moment: "She is a really good friend..thoughtful, generous, kind, etc." Let's face it, nobody's perfect, and in most ways, she sounds pretty great. Friends like that don't sashay up the runway every day. That said, it doesn't mean that you have to become a repository for her minutiae. Take tactful, and ideally undetectable steps to combat the scourge.

 Here are a few ideas:

1. Only accept her calls when you have limited time so there is an end in sight. Say, "Hi Anita, I have a few minutes to chat, I"m on my way to [open heart surgery/the Cannes Film Festival/the supermarket] but we can catch up until I get there." Blah, blah, blah, making meatballs for dinner, blah, blah, just ran my stockings, my boss is wearing a hideous tie, blah, blah, blah. "Ok, Anita, I've arrived here, so I'll have to talk to you later."

 2. Call her when you have enforced "dead time". During your commute, say--assuming you have a hands-free device in your car. When you are waiting for the cable guy. While folding laundry--but don't, no matter how tempted you are, give a running narrative of the darks and lights as she might do to you. There's nothing Gracious about spite, and more importantly, Graces are good conversationalists and there is no standard by which laundry talk could be classified thus.

 3. Return her calls with a text. "Can't talk now, but can text. What's up?" It's unlikely she'll regale you with details of junior's times tables if she has to let her fingers do the talking.

Hope these help.

I know the question wasn't exactly about cell phone rudeness, but I love these "cell phone karma" ads.  Enjoy...


kristen said...

That texting suggestion is an excellent one!

Ruby's said...

Nice way to tackle a delicate situation. Really practical.

Verbose said...

Or how about instead of listening to her talk, Saturated could talk about his/her day so that the conversation isn't a one-way street. Or they could go out and do something together, like go to the movies, bring the kids along, visit the parents with her or even join in on the workout routine.

You don't have to avoid talking to someone because their topics are of little interest to you. It shows lack of respect in the friendship and could in fact hint at a deeper issue.

Could it be that Saturated is outgrowing this friend? That the friend is trying to tell Saturated that she's in fact bored with her life and this is her way of communicating that fact?

Saturated needs to examine the friendship more closely before just accepting the fact that the friend talks about "boring" things.

If the friend is thoughtful and supportive, why not return the favour?

Social Grace said...

Excellent points, Verbose. I love your suggestion about integrating an activity like a movie or workout; that invites an instant conversational topic that can substitute for the laundry and provide an enjoyable outing for both parties. And you are right, thoughtful, considerate friends aren't exactly a dime a dozen, so it's important to appreciate her other good qualities. Thanks for reading/thanks for writing!