The holiday season is upon us, which means attending parties and engaging in conversations. Here are some conversation types you may run into:
The One-Up-Er: If you bring up some modest achievement, they immediately top it. You mention that you’re listening to French language tapes and they describe how they attended high school in Paris.
The Counter-Puncher: If you make a statement, they will find a way to refute it. “You can’t say the sky is blue–what about when it’s cloudy, or rainy–and how about at night?”
The Squeezer: They take a broad subject and squeeze it down to their frame of reference. “Global warming? Did I tell you that Aunt Helen’s been having hot flashes again?”
The Sniper: They listen intently, waiting for someone to misspeak or mispronounce so they can pounce. Teenagers are especially good at this: “Dad I was going 43, not 45, when I totaled the car and I wasn’t texting Lauren, it was Caroline.”
The Self-Referrer: They take your experiences and immediately check to see if it ever happened to them. “That’s strange, I’ve never had morning sickness or stretch marks but then again, I’m a man.”
The Steamroller: Without any encouragement, they launch into a story and don’t stop until it’s over. “Did I ever tell you about my gallbladder operation? I did? Well, it all started when I couldn’t eat.”
The Out-Louder: This person maintains control of the floor by simply increasing their volume over interruptions. “Does anyone else smell smoke?” alarmed interrupter asks. “AS I WAS SAYING, my first symptom was that I couldn’t eat.”
The Silver-Liner: It doesn’t matter how tragic the dark cloud might be, they find the sliver lining. “Well, isn’t the left side of your body still working?”
The Desperate Questioner: It’s not easy to spark a conversation, so they shoot for a sure thing: “So, how long have you been breathing?”
The Piler-On: You relate an amusing tale of your own incompetence and they pile-on. “Microwaving the cat? That’s nothing compared to the time you came down early on Christmas and ripped the head off my new American Girl doll?”
The Victim Blamer: When you relate a tale of misfortune, they hold you directly responsible. “Why did you park so close to the tree, if you knew it might fall on your car?
The Agree-er: They find ways to agree with the most outrageous statements. “You’re right, Hitler was a good person; if you look at the way he treated his dog.”
The Columnist: If you say anything funny, insightful or clever to them, your words will end up in print–but don’t expect to see your name.
John Rice’s column will be appearing in the Hometown section of the Nov. 28 and Dec. 12 Forest Park Review.