Breaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

You’re with a group of people. It could be family. It could be a gathering of friends. Or even your work buddies out to relax or maybe form a group to complain about something going on within the office walls. Then consider: you want to break into the conversation, but you can’t. Even with family gatherings this happens–no one is giving you an opening because someone is the leader, someone is choosing the topics and you find you are no longer listening but just waiting, waiting for a chance to break in. You lose the thread of the conversation. Or after a while you don’t even care.


  • We all anticipate being with people we care about and sharing conversation.
  • Often we are tired at the end of the day and eager for something fun.
  • And to add to our eagerness, we dressed up to be with friends for some meaningful exchanges.

This is part of being a member of society–the anticipation of TALKING to one another. You might even have some news you want to share and you’re just excited to be with this group and see their reactions and how they will support you. (Come on People, we still like the warmth of camaraderie and don’t have to open our minds and souls through Facebook all the time, but can wait for that gathering of hugs and smiles to give our news.)

We all crave that small spotlight when people will focus on us and listen to what we have to say. The KEY is the exchange. And friends and family can be so generous about our news or our opinions. From youth to old age–being able to steer the conversation is empowering and helps us grow no matter the topic:

a new job; the choice of a school or a career; the person we are dating or going to marry; the person we just broke up with; the death of a friend or someone being ill or someone injured or someone recovering. We made money; we lost money. We just met someone the group already knows; we have a new idea for our art work, writing project, music presentation. There are millions of topics. So enough–you get the idea.

But what if you’re having a bad time and you can’t break in or you suddenly don’t want to break in. There are a variety of reactions to this.

  • you give up and walk away
  • you try even harder to break in
  • you find yourself getting angry
  • you attempt to peel the person sitting next to you away from the group

I’ve been in situations with friends when the conversation was all about people I did not know. Everyone else was comfortable with remembering these folks, but since I didn’t know them, I sat quietly wondering when the conversation would take a turn into a topic where I could join in. Has that happened to any of you?

I think if you care about the group you are with you tend to be patient, maybe help yourself to another drink and wait for things to change. But if this happens to you a number of times, you tend to become sensitive to groups that do that. Your awareness of making a conversation COMFORTABLE for everyone in the room becomes one of your goals. When you are the host you are very aware of this. Conversation can be hurtful. Unfortunately it goes with bringing a variety of people together. Drinking can loosen tongues. You intended to have a fun party and maybe there are people leaving your gathering with hurt feelings and unless they tell you, you will never know.


There are going to be many situations in the next six plus months where the main topic of conversation will be politics. I think in some situations we will have to decide to preserve the friendship and so if the person is on the other side–better not to go there at all–or give it a try?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Again, what will you do?

It’s a hard choice. Strong feelings about a candidate can make us want to get up on a bully pulpit and shout to the world. If only we could always stay on an intellectual plain of ideas. Tricky, tricky stuff.


I found this note in one of my notebooks: Each of us has a pool of stories, opinions that we offer in conversation when there is an opening, when we find the space to express our views. But what if this pool would become so narrowed down that we might be expressing 20-25 ideas. There is never an excuse for not reading and learning about possibilities. The world is wide open inviting us to read, consider and take new things in our minds and hearts. Maybe that will help us break into the conversation of living–and people will no longer ignore what we have to say. They will be eager to give us an opening–they will be looking to us to YES, guide the conversation.


Photo: Merlot Marketing.comBreaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

20 thoughts on “Breaking Into The Conversation

  1. This is exactly what I’m trying to teach my kids right now. The art of conversation and the importance of reading and learning new things to be more multi-dimensional and have information and stories to share with others. What a great topic for your blog post. Very insightful. You’re also a REALLY good writer!

    • Wow, Julie. Thanks for your comment and thanks for giving me hope that I’m doing an okay job. I’m still in my bathrobe. I like to post on Sunday but couldn’t. So the keyboard awaited this morning and I got it done. Have a great week, Beth

  2. Group conversations can be lively and interesting. It’s not always a balanced give and take, depending on the group, but sometimes fun just to listen to others opinions. I’m rarely at a loss for words and I’ve become more aware of others who are less vocal. Sometimes you have to ask for their opinions to invite them into the conversation. When it comes to politics, especially this year, we all need to tread lightly if we’re not certain about those in the room. It is somewhat worrisome. But, I believe I would know if someone was ‘on the other side’ and probably wouldn’t spend much time with them anyway. That said, I’m sure I’ll stick my foot in my big mouth before November. Oh well.

    • I’m with you on everything you said, Barbara. Especially about drawing others out. I should have stressed that! Wishing you the best. Maybe after the election I can write about PUTTING MY FOOT IN MY MOUTH, Beth

  3. Since returning to USA from Peace Corps, 64, and even more from Red Cross,Viet Nam, 67, I had to quickly learn when people said “Oh, that must have been/was it interesting, hard, or whatever ? ” the wanted reply is “Yes.” and not two or three sentences, maybe with an example, or, heaven forbid “Not really, it was quite X or V.” In same sense, I learned my 3rd day here, Sarasota, where I moved to retire after 5 years in Paris, the correct reply to “Have you ever been in a place with so much cultural activity?” is “No, never, just amazing here.” Have decades of experience in self centering.

  4. Thanks, Joan. I think what you are saying is something I often do–though I’m not sure it’s always the best path–is to focus on the questioner and not on myself. But sometimes it’s good to be direct and talk about your life. Because it is your experience and others can benefit. You can OPEN them up. Thanks for your comment. Beth

    • I do, i.e., yes, this is the most cultural place ever. What is your favorite activity here? As a Diplomat, have decades of experience of getting others to talk about themselves. Extra points for “So, Vlad, what do you think of the new missile storage place? ” I’m trying to say, here, be prepared, if people hear you’re just home from a conflict zone and ask about the shopping in Duty Free. Self censor to stay sane.

  5. This is a great area to address. I notice that Facebook has taken to showing “how many” people offer you a birthday greeting. Interesting. Our society continues to evolve with less and less personal interplay.
    So getting into an existing conversation can be a challenge, especially if it is among strangers or topics we are not familiar with. I have learned to try and bring another person into the conversation myself, there by bringing the both of us into a position to be a part of whatever is being discussed. But as you allude to, you have to wait for an opening, like a running back trying to get through the opposing football team’s front line!!!!!!! It does take some practice. Bill

    • I agree it takes practice. I think people should try to include those that are LOST and on the sidelines. I know at some family gatherings certain folks always have the stage (not our family) and others lay back and need to step up or be helped. Love you, Beth

    • I find FB to be a great place for conversation, including local people. Only there did I find out that an older than elderly me fellow member of a museum cttee was a former member of Nat’l Geo Board and she learned much about me. Now we often pop up in same threads/conversations, say Madagascar where I lived, she visited and we have a mutual friend researching there.

      • True enough. But if you are pregnant or about to announce your engagement, tell your family in person. That’s the slant of my comment. Thanks.

  6. Great read, I find it much easier to get into a group conversation vs. a real one. This is something I love to work on when we all get together for conferences, or when I meet up with friends.

    • Thanks, Rena. I get your point. Real conversations where someone is weighing your every word and you are too–aren’t much fun. Thanks for the tweets, by the way. Beth

  7. I’ve found myself in the “can’t break-in to the conversation” place as well as having to exercise self-discipline to keep my mouth shut, esp about politics. In both cases, I’ve come to the realisation that neither group is my tribe. Brenda

    • Brenda, thanks for this. So honest. I thought I had a tribe where I lived for17years. Sometimes I could break in and they were lovely, other times it was like DID SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING. And the politics thing is always fraught with tension and can be very confusing.

      Want to chat? I ‘m here. Beth

  8. I think when I was much younger it was harder finding a way to ease myself into a group conversation. These days, I can talk about just everything. lol With one exception, I “try” not to every talk politics. Every other topic is OK for me with that exception. It’s makes people’s blood boil and I’m not interesting in cooling it! Great post and thanks for sharing!

    • I’m not interested in cooling it either, Carolann. But I won’t ask what side you are on! Last night at a bookclub meeting one small comment set me off and I had to take the high road though it bothered me for the rest of the night. Which isn’t good. I need to chill. Love that you feel comfortable in conversation. I do too. Beth

  9. Hi Beth! This is a topic that I think many of us consider at different times. Surely with all the politics happening it makes it even more challenging. I usually don’t have any difficulty jumping in to a discussion but I’ve found that very little gets “discussed” when tempers flare and people become polarized. I sometimes do my best to try to redirect the conversation but something that’s really hard. So if the group refuses to switch I often just walk away. ~Kathy

    • Hi Kathy, We live in a time with great divisions. You and I might be on opposite sides. I have no idea. But I would calmly try to find some common ground. Because I think it does exist. But when people go to emotion, things fall apart.

      Wishing you a wonderful Mother’s Day, Beth

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