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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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I Can't Get a Word In

Uploaded: Sep 30, 2014
Sherry responded to one of my blogs with this concern [my edits included: " . . .Women who finish almost every sentence with 'and' or 'but,' then carry on, endlessly. The only way to get a word in is to rudely interrupt." She also wrote, "I think men tend to have a different issue, which is domination of the conversation. My husband has a tendency in this direction."

Sherry went on to say she had talked to her visiting friend about the former a few times to no avail, and was happy to see her go.

Most people actually want to have a discussion, and with a little help, it's possible.
Here's a tool to help with both of these issues that I learned from Dr. Kathryn Ford. It's called the "washer." Imagine a washer on a string that goes between your mouths (no, not a dishwasher!).

When you talk, it pushes the washer toward the other person's mouth. When she talks, it pushes the washer back toward your mouth. The goal is to have the washer in the middle most of the time.

This means we talk in short bites, and get input from our spouse (e.g., what do you think? How do you see this? How does that sound to you? How do you feel about what I just said?). Then we continue. The washer moves back and forth, back and forth.

When we talk too long, the washer ends ups pushed up against our mate's mouth, making it difficult for him to get in a word.

You and your spouse can agree to try this experiment, and see how it goes after a week or two.

Not sure you can teach your boss this tool, although I have seen the "talking stick" used in meetings at certain companies at their off-sites, so maybe there is hope yet.
There are also those people that will talk endlessly, no matter what you do or say, and I am not fond of diagnosing anyone.

We all choose who to spend our free time with ? and that might be a helpful option (of course certain family and in-law situations may put us in situations where our best bet is to minimize exposure).

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