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I have a really close acquaintance, Emily, who knows me very well.* We often have constructive debates about life things. During them, she always wants to help me, and we argue calmly and intelligently, without any raised tone.

Partly because of how well she knows me, Emily has the bad habit of getting into long, 5-minutes monologues, explaining bit-by-bit what she thinks I/we should do, what she thinks is the problem with my attitude, etc. This happens when she really believes in what she's saying, and believes it's important. The problem is, there are usually a number of key points, or even the premise, that I disagree with, so after a time the monologue feels to take an irrelevant way, and I hardly get the chance to argue.

She doesn't leave any gap for a response, and I can't cut her word: when I do, the immediate response is "Please listen 'til I finish". Sometimes she does stop, but you clearly feel her frustration, feeling as she just couldn't explain everything - but if she did so, I wouldn't disagree. So even if we continue, she takes every opportunity to continue.

My aim is to cut those long monologues early, and get the chance to argue, without making Emily feel frustrated by me holding in her further arguments, and at least shepherd the monologue in a way I find more relevant. Can I do this, and how?


.* "Emily" is my mother (and I'm a grown-up). Though this explains the nature of our debates, I believe a general question is better for the site.

  • 1
    Do other people get similar 5-minute monologues, or just you? That sounds excruciating, I wouldn't expect many people to attempt another discussion if they know that's what they're in for – Xen2050 Dec 9 '17 at 16:40
  • @Xen She doesn't really have such close talks with other people than me and my sister, who does get these, of course. – Neinstein Dec 9 '17 at 17:04
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There's a world of difference between a relationship with an opinionated and long winded friend and the relationship between mother and child... Even when you've entered adulthood a mother's job is never done, and they're going to want to give you the benefit of their perspective whether you want to hear it or not. A friend can be brushed off and you can deal with them being a little perturbed about it, but most people would be a little more gentle with their parent.

With that said, this is probably a good time to think about having a meta discussion with your mother. Pick a time when she's not already in the midst of a monologue and have a sit down chat about how you two communicate, how it makes you feel, and how you would prefer to communicate. Be prepared to compromise. You may not be able to put a stop to the monologues right away, but talking about how you two talk will be a step in the right direction. After a few meta conversations you'll probably find that you're both getting a little better about communicating in a way that makes you both feel heard and respected.

I can't stress this enough, learning to communicate with people about how you communicate is a tremendously valuable interpersonal skill. Learning to talk with people about how you feel and how you want to communicate is something that smoothes out an awful lot of interpersonal conflict. Starting can be as easy as:

When we talk, can we X instead of Y?

Or in your specific case:

Mom, when we talk it feels like you give me lectures or monologues sometimes. It would mean a lot if our conversations were a little more conversational, sometimes it feels like I'm not being heard.

Again, be sure to start this meta discussion when you're not already in the midst of some other discussion. Interrupting your mother's monologue to tell her that isn't going to go well. Pick a time when you're both getting along and feeling somewhat relaxed. Be patient, and be gentle. Changing a communication pattern takes time and practice, but it can be done. Good luck.

  • Great answer, +1! I forgot to mention - my bad - that I already had such a talk with her a while ago. It just appears sometimes she forgets herself, gets too involved and really wants to tell everything she has in her mind - which is a lot... – Neinstein Dec 9 '17 at 17:09
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This exact situation happened to me with multiple family members. She doesn't respect your opinions. Whether or not she should is up to you.

It's worth clarifying that this is lecturing, rather than someone monologuing. She's a authoritive person in your life and lecturers & teachers would be just as guilty of this. If she lectures everybody, then I can't help, otherwise read on.

For many years as a child you listened to her lectures relatively content, and she's become used to that. She is trying to help, and when you were younger this was the best method she found to do this. It sounds a lot like the relationship between you and her has changed a lot in your mind, but not in hers.

You're a student, which means you've likely hit the period where you start to spend much less time around your mother, there's a good change she just wants to talk to you, and feel like you're listening to her the same way you used to. Sorry to be sappy, but I wish I did more of this when I could.

The above doesn't answer the question, but it's setup for this bit.

You can try to convert the relationship between you and her from that of teacher/student to two friends, likely by earning her respect.

That means by listening to her thoughts (yes the really long ones), and replying with comments that show you both listened, but also have your own beliefs with reasons she understands and respects.

For me this started to change when I got a job and she became more interested in what I had to say.

-1

Many people would want to finish their point before being interrupted, but that only takes a sentence or two, maybe 30 seconds tops, it's pretty common on televised news or political "discussions."

But 5 minutes straight, with no interruptoin or input from the "target" (you), is something else again. Since she doesn't do that to any other adults, I think inside she knows that it's not appropriate behaviour.

You could point that out to her, essentially "If you don't treat other people this way, why are you doing it to us? It's not right."

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