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22 June, 2010

Social woes: Is it me?

Being a foreigner in a different country can be weird and confusing sometimes. When you visit another country on vacation it's easy to start assuming things. Like all Brits have a cockney accent, or all New Yorkers say "Forgetaboutit" in every sentence, or that France really smells, but these observations are often based on a brief snapshot. When you are in a different country for a longer period of time you soon learn that some things are different and some thing appear different at first but are really the same. OR you learn that some things are this way in WV but not the whole USA and vice versa.

Even after 3 and half years, though, I still struggle with some aspects, especially socially, and often times I'm left wondering if it's just me as a person or me as a foreigner. This weeks particular social woe is the fact that I seem to suck at telling stories. Even interesting stories. Twice this week I have attempted to tell a story. One about my heroic efforts in getting rid of ants in the house and the second was about Barnaby. I was in a one on one situation both times so I had their complete attention. It was two separate people. It was my turn in the conversation. Yet, when I began "Well, we started getting ants in our entryway. A few times during the week I was up early squishing them but then I found this great product...." (or something along those lines) I was interrupted. Not once or twice but maybe 5 or 6 times I would get interrupted and drag out an otherwise pretty short but helpful/interesting story.

I still can't work out where I was going wrong. Perhaps it was my subject matter. I think what makes things worse is I have a really difficult time of knowing when someone is about to stop speaking. This means I often talk over someone or if it's someone who doesn't stop talking I can barely get a word in edge ways. It's tough when I am just speaking one on one but it becomes a nightmare when speaking in a small group and everyone else seems to just know when to say this piece. This often leads to a perception that I am quiet or shy where in fact I usually have a lot to say I just wait for the right time or wait until spoken to.

So, I'm looking for some suggestions. Perhaps it just takes practice and I need to work on my story telling. Or perhaps I need better subjects. I've noticed that sometimes people will embellish details which I don't tend to do intentionally (unless I say "Man, that bridge was a million miles high!") so maybe I'll try that...

"So, there I was...a knife clenched between my teeth, leaning over the deadly amazonian fire ants. Sweat dripping off my brow as I prepared for the kill"


Evil Twin's Wife said...

Most people in the US love to hear a British accent, but sometimes, we have a hard time understanding a very heavy accent. I've heard you (on the Paul and Spike show) and you speak very clearly. I don't know if you pause often in conversation, but if you do, some people see that "pause" as an opportunity to jump into the convo.

Raquel's World said...

I just wanna know how you killed the ants. They are taking over my house and my usual ammo is not working. So please, you have my attention...tell me.

Paul said...

It's not just you. Listening is a lost art. More often than not in a conversation someone is only half listening to what you are actually saying and focusing more on finding a pause in which to interject their own comment.

Odds are if you did start that story about the Amazon someone would interrupt with, "Oh yeah, well I was dangling over a pit of fire ants and seven crocodiles!"

The Film Geek said...

Sorry, man...what were you saying?

Spike Nesmith said...

That's weird, innit?

(please insert that comment between paragraphs two and three of your original post.)