Monday, April 7, 2014

The Gift of Gab

I talk too much. Pretty sure I always have. I'm from Jersey. I talk long, fast and often.

But lately, I've been feeling self-conscious about some of my spontaneous conversation. On Saturday morning, I called the customer service department of a company I deal with frequently. Not surprisingly, I was put on hold to wait for the next available customer service representative. While that's unusual for this company, it's not unusual for a Saturday morning. So, when I got a cheerful greeting from the customer service rep who picked up the call, I said, "Well good morning! Aren't you cheerful for someone who's jammed this morning!"

Okay, admittedly "jammed" wasn't my best word choice, but I was being friendly. There wasn't a hint of sarcasm or attitude in my voice, though I'd been on hold for close to ten minutes. In a world where customer service is quickly becoming an oxymoron, I appreciate people who manage to be cheerful when things are hectic, so I thought I'd say so.

Wrong audience, apparently.

Feeling awkward, I switched gears and launched into no-nonsense business mode, since that seemed to be the appropriate tone, all the while wondering why I should feel awkward for trying to be nice.

Maybe our e-mail/text-oriented society has made conversation obsolete. Maybe my natural chatty tendencies have been exacerbated by the fact that I no longer work in a people-rich environment. Maybe I'm more annoying than I think I am.

Maybe it's all of the above.

For whatever reason, I find myself second-guessing my interactions, feeling self-conscious instead of self-confident. Should I take a "just the facts, ma'am" approach to life? Live by the adage that "silence is golden"? Or just plow on through, understanding that some people simply won't appreciate my Jersey Girl charm? (No, that's not another oxymoron.)

Well, if you know me at all, you already know the answer to that question. You're also well aware that if I even attempted one of the first two, I'd probably explode. Or implode. And although self-preservation (even at the risk of self-consciousness) is a reasonable motive, it's not the only one I have.

I like connecting with other people. I enjoy a good impromptu conversation with the barista at Starbucks, the mom at McDonald's or the cashier at Target. And while I understand those people aren't
there merely for my conversational pleasure, I also believe that in a world where we spend a great deal of time with our faces in our phones, it's important to preserve human interaction wherever we may find it. Too often, I am one of those people, checking Facebook here and e-mail there, but I try my best to put my phone away when I'm involved in a face-to-face interaction with another person (and yes, the barista, the mom and the cashier all count as other people).  

I will try to remember that not everyone has the gift of gab, and not everyone appreciates it in another person either. I will try to rein myself in when it becomes obvious that I'm involved in an interaction with someone who wishes I would just stop talking. And I'll try not to let it hurt my feelings, because really, it's kind of silly that it does.

But when it comes to doing anything other than talking long, fast and often?

Well, that's just not gonna happen.

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