Avoiding Talkers | Mark’s Remarks

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I’m going to admit something to you: I avoid people at times. Come on, you know you do it too. 

Don’t judge me.

Michelle comes back from shopping sometimes and says she ran into someone who seemed to be avoiding her. This is usually early in the day time, and my wise wife takes it with a grain of salt. 

She says women do such things if they don’t have makeup on or haven’t fixed their hair. They pretend not to notice one another and go to great lengths to avoid a close-up confrontation.  They are afraid someone will see them without their war paint. The only reason Michelle isn’t bothered by this “avoiding” thing is because she admits to doing it herself.

Now, I’m afraid to hurt people’s feelings so I am often trapped by folks who like to talk. If I’m in the mood to talk, we can stand for hours. I come from a long line of people who like to shoot the bull. So, when it’s on my own terms it’s OK. 

I can jaw and shoot the breeze with the best of them.  

When I’m not in the mood to talk, I can still pull the “elbow in the soup” routine where I will act as though the person has my full attention and I am fascinated by their conversation. This is phony and not fair to the person. Plus, I’m not doing the right thing.  I should be able to gracefully end a conversation and tell them I’ll check in with them later.

We talked in church on Sunday about how many of us say “How are you” and “fine” all the time, knowing full well we don’t want anyone to answer the question with anything BUT fine. Am I right?

Since schedules became a thing in my life, I am afraid I don’t have the luxury of time. I miss it. I long for a time when I have enough of it.  

So, back to my admission: I avoid people. These are people I care about. I want to hear about their lives and I want to know how they are doing. I am interested and invested in them. But I don’t always have time to talk to them.

On a good day, I will stop and sit for bit, or relax for a nice phone call, or do whatever is necessary to have a good, long conversation. I’ve caught myself talking people’s legs off before, especially people I enjoy talking to. If I haven’t seen them in a while, I can be pretty exuberant with my conversation.  

However, most of the time I only have a few minutes to chat. I hate that. I don’t pick up my phone. I don’t reply to a text.  

The worst thing is when I feel the need to completely avoid a person in the physical sense. I see them coming and I try to take a detour.  Just like those gals at Walmart. I don’t have time to talk very long. If I don’t start a conversation, I won’t have to give up my precious time.

We all know people who can’t stop talking. They go on and on and don’t know how to end a conversation and also lose all sense of how long they’ve been talking.  

I try very hard to be polite about things. Once when I dropped something off at someone’s house, I started backing up as I was talking and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. The person I was talking to said “Well you need to go, I see.”

I  felt bad. I was practically in my car and they were still talking. So, I shut off my car motor and stood there for 20 minutes in order to pay penance.  

I also think I want to spend quality time with people and I don’t just want to drop in on them for half and hour or talk for two minutes. It’s not enough time. But it’s also not good to completely avoid people due to lack of time. As scary as it is to me, I simply have to MAKE time.

This stuff has been on my mind for a few days now and I started wondering something. Have I ever been one of those people who others avoided?  How many times has someone said “Oh no, there’s Mark Tullis. I don’t have time to talk to him?” How often has someone said, “I’d like to ask Mark this question but I’m afraid he will go on and on?”

I know I’m capable of it and I’m sure people  see it in me.

So, I guess I’m writing about it so I can do a better job. Maybe you can join the cause with me. Why don’t we decide to take things a little slower? Take just one day to contact people. Visit with someone once a week.  Take time to talk on the phone a little longer.

On the flipside, maybe we can try to remember that some people are too busy right now, but they will be more accessible later. Try to respect that not everyone has time to chat.

Think we can do it?

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