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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a bit of a strange experience yesterday, Saturday. I was at a booth in Centennial Park for EarthDay. It was the booth of a recycling organization. I was sitting at a table and standing next to me was a woman named Sherry, who has run a successful recycling drop-off center for a number of years.<br><br><br><br>
Sherry was talking to a fellow, when a woman named Lisa approached and started talking with me. Lisa works for Zola restaurant, and was telling me about the numerous glass containers the restaurant "generates" and that Metro does not pick up. So, Lisa starts asking me detailed questions about<br><br>
glass recycling in Nashville, the market for recycled glass, etc. I tell her I really do not know about this. But the person to ask is standing right next to me, i.e., Sherry.<br><br><br><br>
So I put my hand on Sherry's shoulder. She looks down at me briefly, but continues to talk with the fellow she had been talking with. And continues to talk, and talk, and talk. After maybe ten minutes, Lisa walks away with her dog in tow.<br><br><br><br>
After a total of maybe 15 minutes, Sherry finally stops talking to the fellow she had been talking with, and turns to me and says, "Now, what is it you wanted to ask me?" By this time Lisa was not only gone, she was long gone and not even visible in the crowd.<br><br><br><br>
I guess my question is: How could I have handled this situation better? Put another way, is there any polite way to ask someone to shut up for a minute or two so you can get a word in edgewise?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by mushroom</i><br><br><b>How about? "Excuse me...I hate to interrupt, but Lisa has a question for you, Sherry.</b></div>
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I guess I could have tried that. But I usually don't touch women without good reason, and, having ignored my touch--virtually--I guess I didn't see that a verbal statement like that would have made much of a difference. I will try that if I ever find myself in a similar situation, though. Thanks for the input! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Mushroom is right but I would have put all my energy into thought transfers to Lisa's dog and asked it to piss up the leg of Sherry, who sounds like an arrogant madam on an ego trip. grrr.
 

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Obviously Sherry felt that her conversation was too important to be interrupted, and frankly that's her perogative. Sherry indicated that she didn't want to be interrupted.<br><br><br><br>
Personally, the best thing in that case would have been to give Lisa Sherry's contact info and let her talk with her at a more convenient time.<br><br><br><br><br><br>
(Can you tell I hate it when people interrupt me?) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by spud</i><br><br><b>Mushroom is right but I would have put all my energy into thought transfers to Lisa's dog and asked it to piss up the leg of Sherry, who sounds like an arrogant madam on an ego trip. grrr.</b></div>
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Hahaha. Actually, Sherry is a dedicated single mom who has single-handedly (more or less) piloted the most successful recycling drop-off program in Nashville, and gotten darned little thanks for it. Bottom line is that she is a "political" (if not a personal) friend, and I do not wish to hurt, insult or alienate her. That's why I was asking for a <b>polite</b> way of interrupting her.<br><br><br><br>
By the way, this "motor mouth" phenomenon seems to be a more general issue. The "Sherry" incident being just one example. I seem to be seeing something of a pattern. Almost all the examples I've run across have involved divorced, single women, who are perhaps lonely and feel neglected. That Sherry seemed unable to break off a conversation with a member of the opposite sex in order to speak with a member of her own sex seems to fit this "pattern"/syndrome--if it is a pattern/syndrome.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">That Sherry seemed unable to break off a conversation with a member of the opposite sex in order to speak with a member of her own sex seems to fit this "pattern"/syndrome--if it is a pattern/syndrome.</div>
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Why are you assuming that Sherry didn't want to talk to this other person? I know it might be far-fetched, but she might actually have been ENJOYING the conversation, and simply did not wish to be interrupted.<br><br><br><br>
Of course, I am saying this knowing full well that I don't know all the details.
 

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I would have interrupted her, with something brief like, "When you get a minute, this lady has a question about recycling." If I were having a conversation, and someone had a possibly more important question, I would want to be interrupted. I don't think we know for sure if she knew the question was for the woman, or how important it may have been.<br><br><br><br>
And then after, say five minutes (or less), giving the contact info would be good. (hadn't thought of that, Gruntled Sheep)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Gruntled Sheep</i><br><br><b>Obviously Sherry felt that her conversation was too important to be interrupted, and frankly that's her perogative. Sherry indicated that she didn't want to be interrupted.</b></div>
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Ok, thanks for that comment. But please note that that was not mushroom's reading of the situation--she felt I should have been more verbal. So apparently it wasn't "obvious" either to me or to mushroom. In fact, I was quite surprised by the way it played out.<br><br><br><br>
Is it really the "perogative" of the person talking not to allow an interruption? That's news to me. Where is that written down? If that is so, and if a person interrupts me, can I just interrupt them right back to assert my "perogative"? Or would this just lead to counter-interruption and counter-counter interruption and the degeneration of all polite behavior into something more like rudeness and incivility?<br><br><br><br>
It seems to me that dealing with other people in civilized society requires some degree of self-restraint, and that that self-restraint is lacking in people who just talk on-and-on and brook no interruption.<br><br><br><br>
By the way, when I asked "where is it written" I wasn't meaning to be sarcastic. I just pulled Amy Vanderbilt's <b>Etiquette</b> down from the bookshelf. She has almost nothing on the subject of interruptions of conversations, and what she does have is limited to a discussion of small children interrupting adults or the interruption of teenagers talking on the phone when there is only one phone in the house.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><b>Personally, the best thing in that case would have been to give Lisa Sherry's contact info and let her talk with her at a more convenient time.</b></div>
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There are a couple of problems with that suggestion. First, I did not have Sherry's permission to give out her contact information. Second, I did not have that information with me, since we were at a table in the middle of a park. Third, I did not have a crystal ball to look into the future to see that Sherry was going to continue talking long past the time that Lisa was/would have been willing to wait. The way things played themselves out was a genuine surprise to me.<br><br><br><br>
Lisa does have the contact info of the organization, of course. So she can contact us. But maybe she feels that given the way she was treated, we are just a bunch of jerks, so why bother?<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><b>(Can you tell I hate it when people interrupt me?) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)"></b></div>
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I take it that that's a rhetorical question. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"> One of the good things about Veggie Boards is that you can "talk" all you want and no one interrupts you. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Gruntled Sheep</i><br><br><b>Why are you assuming that Sherry didn't want to talk to this other person?</b></div>
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From Sherry's behavior. Lisa was standing right in front of the table, right beside the fellow Sherry was talking with, looking at Sherry. Sherry would have had to have been blind not to have seen her.
 

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I still don't see what that has to do with Sherry not wanting to talk to the person she was currently speaking with.<br><br><br><br>
I bet you $100 Sherry DID see Lisa. She just didn't care to be interrupted. Just because she knew Lisa wanted a word, didn't mean that Sherry had to stop everything and listen.<br><br><br><br>
In fact to me, it indicated that she definitely didn't want to be interrupted since it would have been easy as pie to break off and turn to Lisa. The fact that she didn't speaks volumes.<br><br><br><br>
(Can you tell I read too much Men are from Mars.....?! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"> )
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Gruntled Sheep</i><br><br><b>In fact to me, it indicated that she definitely didn't want to be interrupted since it would have been easy as pie to break off and turn to Lisa. The fact that she didn't speaks volumes.<br><br></b></div>
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I agree that it "speaks volumes," but I'm not sure what these volumes say.<br><br><br><br>
I think if it were "Sam" (a man) we were talking about, instead of Sherry, but who displayed the same behavior as Sherry, then I think we would be hearing a lot of cries of "sexism" given the way the guy was treated vs. the way Lisa was treated. Lisa was pretty much treated like dirt by Sherry, in my opinion. (Disfavored people are often treated as though they are "invisible." There's a book called--I think--"The Invisible Man" about racial discrimination.)<br><br><br><br><br><br>
If you think that is ok, that's fine. That's your opinion. But it isn't mine.
 

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I view this situation like one where people are servicing customers. I would think that if you know someone is waiting, you try to wrap up the conversation you are having so you don't lose your "customer", or at least find out more info so you can prioritize.
 

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See, I disagree entirely. I'm already hearing cries of sexism.<br><br><br><br>
Men and women have vastly different communications patterns. YOU might have thought it was rude to ignore Lisa, whereas I think it would have been rude to butt into a conversation that was already in progress, which is what men tend to do to women on a fairly consistent basis, thereby implying that their conversations are less important (and this is evident from your implication that because Sherry was a divorced and single (and thereby lonely and neglected--which is a pretty chauvanistic judgement to make in of itself)-that she was somehow unable to extricate herself from her conversation even though she is a grown adult woman)<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">First, I did not have Sherry's permission to give out her contact information.</div>
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I'm assuming that someone "who has run a successful recycling drop-off center for a number of years." has pretty *public* contact info out there. I hardly think she would have objected to you giving out her work number, especially as this is what Lisa was originally interested in. At the very least, you could have given her the name of the drop-off centre.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I just pulled Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette down from the bookshelf. She has almost nothing on the subject of interruptions of conversations,</div>
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Probably because this is *basic* ettiquette and assumes that everyone knows that interrupting an on-going conversation is rude.<br><br><br><br>
Ahem: "Conversations"<br><br><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">A good education is a sound basis for carrying on conversation. A gentleman should be able to talk on a variety of subjects, although he should never use vulgarisms in speech. Simplicity and terseness are the characteristics of a highly-cultivated person. A gentleman should also be a good listener, even if the talker is prolific. A gentleman conceals his dislikes and disgusts.<br><br><br><br>
Compliments are encouraged, but only if they are sincere. Flattery should be avoided at all costs. Slang is considered vulgar, and should never be used. Scandal is the least excusable of all conversational vulgarities. <b>Interruption of speech is also a sin against good breeding</b> . To show interest in the concerns of others is very complimentary, and should be practiced in conversation. Finally, a gentleman never mentions private matters in public or mixed assembly.<br><br><br></div>
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(emphasis my own)<br><br><br><br>
Now I am not saying that there aren't times it isn't necessary, however it is still the speaker's perogative of whether to grant the interruption or not.<br><br><br><br>
This also jives with my own experience at having to deal with politicians and whatnot in workplace and social settings in DC, where I work. I wouldn't *dream* of forcing an interruption on someone else. I would do what you did to get their attention, and take the hint that *now was not a good time* when it was ignored.<br><br><br><br>
If I had to deal with every person that tried to interrupt me while working (and its plenty!) I would never get anything done!
 

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When I am having a conversation with another adult, even my children can get my attention by saying, "Excuse me Sometimes I really don't notice their tugging on me...but I am used to being tugged on.<br><br>
If another adult touched me, I am sure they would get my instant and full attention, but people are different.<br><br>
I think I would try one way and if it didn't work another and another.<br><br>
Often, you can just look at the person...if that doesn't work, stand a little closer...then I say "excuse me I can't think of a single time where I couldn't get the person's attention this way.
 

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There is a difference between interrupting a conversation with something unimportant and interrupting a conversation for something work-related, when you are "on-the-job" so to speak. It is bad customer service to ignore someone who has a valid reason for wanting to talk to you and carry on a conversation with a friend etc. The way I see it, Sherry was there to promote recycling, it was her JOB at that time. Therefore Lisa's question takes precedence over a conversation unrelated to recycling (I'm assuming it was unrelated, that hasn't been stated). It may be rude to interrupt but it's MORE rude to make a customer wait. I think you probably should have been more assertive Joe.. Sherry may not have realised what Lisa wanted, and thought it was unimportant... of course she should have treated it like it was important anyway IMO as she was doing a job. I agree GS that women get interrupted a lot but we're talking about a work-like situation here not a normal life one... it's called professionalism and she didn't display it.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by shewolf</i><br><br><b>There is a difference between interrupting a conversation with something unimportant and interrupting a conversation for something work-related, when you are "on-the-job" so to speak. It is bad customer service to ignore someone who has a valid reason for wanting to talk to you and carry on a conversation with a friend etc. The way I see it, Sherry was there to promote recycling, it was her JOB at that time. Therefore Lisa's question takes precedence over a conversation unrelated to recycling (I'm assuming it was unrelated, that hasn't been stated). It may be rude to interrupt but it's MORE rude to make a customer wait. I think you probably should have been more assertive Joe.. Sherry may not have realised what Lisa wanted, and thought it was unimportant... of course she should have treated it like it was important anyway IMO as she was doing a job. I agree GS that women get interrupted a lot but we're talking about a work-like situation here not a normal life one... it's called professionalism and she didn't display it.</b></div>
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I agree entirely. I am inferring from Joe's description, that Sherry's conversation seemed to be giving off casual, non-work related vibes, and that is why he was mad. Joe, please clarify.<br><br><br><br>
Ever go to a store and the person at the counter is obviously talking to a friend while you are waiting to check out? It is almost the same thing, and it is <i>rude</i>.
 

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"After a total of maybe 15 minutes, Sherry finally stops talking to the fellow she had been talking with, and turns to me and says, "Now, what is it you wanted to ask me?" "<br><br><br><br>
I'm sorry but Sherry is rude and arrogant. Joe is working for 'free' on a public information stall with this woman and does not deserve to be spoken to like that. Even meglomaniac school teachers aren't quite that rude.<br><br><br><br>
I hope next time someone tries to get her attention and is snubbed, the reply fifteen minutes later is<br><br>
a) your car was towed away because the tow truck couldn't contact you.<br><br>
b) your raffle ticket won the first prize of a holiday to the Bahamas but they gave it away to someone else because nobody claimed it quick enough.<br><br>
c) That movie star wanted to ask you out on a date but couldn't get a word in edgeways.<br><br>
d) I wanted to tell you that you are being secretly filmed for tv for that new desperate for power motor mouth reality show.
 
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