We’ve all probably been in the situation where we’ve been trapped in a conversation with a BAD conversationalist. You know, the people who blather on about themselves, and seem completely uninterested in any contributions you might have? It is exhausting to try to talk to one of these types of people, not to mention awkward.
Today I discovered that there is a particular type of the Bad Conversationalist. It is the Bad Question Asker. As a prime example of this, I would like to introduce you to my Mother (that statement might be more effective if she actually knew this blog existed and read it, but the nature of this post will tell you why that is not a possibility). She has knack for asking such bad questions, it is clear to me that she either doesn’t care or isn’t remotely paying attention to the details of my life. Her questions are so off the mark I wonder if she even remembers who she’s talking to half way through the conversation. She also has a habit of holding on to a seriously useless pieces of information, and asking about those in lieu of, say, asking me about my many doctors appointments or what is going on in my personal life. Or, worse than useless, is just the outdated nature of the questions. Like, she was paying attention five years ago, but that’s when her brain became full of data about me and she has since given up trying to hold on to information.*
This type of bad question asking is only slightly more disheartening than the people who ask you a question, and as you answer, you realize they aren’t even remotely paying attention to what you’re saying. The question was only asked to set up the “conversation” the asker wants to have. I used quotes there because, in those circumstances, it ends up being less of a conversation and more just someone talking at you and telling you about themselves.
Today my mom asked me how my knee was doing. I went to physical therapy for a knee injury last fall (I was actually done with therapy by November) and it hasn’t bothered me since. I have, however, been suffering with sciatica since May. Glad she’s keeping up. In the same vein, my boyfriend periodically suffers with a bad back. He’s usually ok with it, but last winter, while visiting my family over the holidays, it was bothering him one day and he had to take a muscle relaxer and a nap to set himself straight again. It really wasn’t a big deal. Yet today she asked, “How’s [insert boyfriend’s name here]’s back?” It was a very random and out of the blue question. Maybe she didn’t know what else to ask about him, but why pick that? Just a general, “How’s he doing?” would have sufficed.
The effect of a conversation with a Bad Question Asker is that you walk away from the conversation feeling kind of crappy. As though, it’s almost better if they don’t bother asking any questions at all instead of asking questions that are so woefully unrelated to anything actually happening in your life. Of course, you can forgive a relative stranger of this; but from friends and/or family, it has a crummy lasting effect.
* Before you feel too bad for me, or dismiss me as some sort of ungrateful jerk who doesn’t appreciate their mother, I would like to note that my dad is the opposite of this. He is the best Question Asker ever. I think it’s because most of his career was in sales, which is all about talking to people and relationships, but he pays attention to every last detail when you talk, and will come back weeks later and follow up with questions on something you yourself will have forgotten about. Why I love My Dad Part III?