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Posted by Robin Abrahams  May 6, 2012 11:01 AM

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... is online here. I mention that the first letter was edited considerably for length. For those who are interested, here's the original: 

Growing-up, my family would sit around the table or poolside or be driving in the car, and have conversation. Conversation, as I knew it, was one person talking and the others listening. When that person was finished, the others could respond. Responding was never hostile. If one dissagreeed, that was ok, but it was always stated with respect and never with hostility. We were never of the mind to out-do, out-speak, or crush someone else. After all, we were having a conversation with people who we chose to be with and those people's feelings mattered. 

My delema is this; of late, most poeple who I try to engage in conversation with seem to take an opposing side no matter what the topic. And very harshly, at that. It seems that people are more interested in getting their own ("right") opinion out than they are in listening to what their peers have to say. How can we grow, how can we learn, how can we have a meeting of the minds when conversation is more like a mini-war than a sharing of thoughts? I am not a long winded person, but I would like to finish speaking a single thought before being cut off, told that I'm wrong and dissmissed. 

I know that I can only change me. So, I'm wondering, what do you think I need to do when conversing with the people in my life? 

What would you have said?
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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