03/29/2015 12:50 pm ET Updated May 29, 2015

An Open Letter to Conversation Stealers

Dear Conversation Stealers,

I knew that I would need to write this letter at some point in time but have been putting it off for some time. I guess in my role as a clinical psychologist I am inclined to give others the benefit of the doubt. And yes, after all of these years in practice I still look for the strengths and good intentions of others. I am afraid, though, that this topic of conversation stealing has come up so frequently now that I am obligated to write a letter to you.

Yes. We are grown women and should let others know when we need to be listened to. We should at this point in our lives know that we may say, "I need to talk" or even, "Please listen to me for a few minutes." As a clinical psychologist I can confidently tell you that this does not come naturally to most women. Women tend to want to please. They want to help. They want to nurture. And, yes sometimes they would like you to pause and recognize on your own that they too need some talking time. Mostly, women don't want to be seen as selfish and needy.

Maybe you are a good friend, a partner or even a spouse. Perhaps you have been friends for a while or maybe even are fairly new in each others lives. Maybe others have listened to you patiently and through many conversations and now want some equal time. My guess is that most of you who are reading this don't know that you are a conversation thief.

Well, in support of listeners everywhere I have decided to speak to you on behalf of the quieter among us who are not necessarily less in need of a good heart to heart conversation or even a simple open set of ears. You are most likely a conversation stealer if:

1. You allow very few pauses in conversation so that you don't have to give up the proverbial floor.

2. You have not heard another voice in the conversation for five minutes plus or minus a few seconds.

3. You get louder when the other person tries to talk.

4. You are constantly reaching into your arsenal of stories to draw upon when in conversation. You frequently say, "Well, that reminds me of a story."


5. You feel amazingly relieved at the end of a conversation but can't remember a word that your supposed partner in dialogue.

Well, dear conversation stealer, my guess is that all along you have meant no harm. No one has ever told you that you were this sort of thief and you have never shoplifted a day in your life. Let me tell you that for the good of your friendships please stop and evaluate your role in conversation. Ask yourself if you allow equal time in conversation. If you are not sure than go ahead and ask those in your life who are honest with you if you have a tendency in this direction. It is never to late to make a change.

You will be doing a service to both yourselves and your partners in dialogue if you share the conversation. Your relationships will likely improve in quality and last longer if you tweak your communication skills. Not only do "we all need someone we can lean on" but we all need someone who will listen.

Thank you for listening.

Good Luck!