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An Oedipenpal asks:

When is it polite to shut your mother down when she is talking non-stop the way her mother does and the way you eventually will?  Should you allow her to ramble on, or nip it at the beginning of the conversation cycle?


The easy answer?  Never.

The practical answer?  As soon as possible.

The polite way? By screening your calls.

This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily not answer the phone, but when she calls – glance at the clock.  Imagine what you’d be doing in the 10, 20, 30 minutes it’s going to take for her to get whatever it is she’s going to go on about off her chest.  If you can’t put it off, don’t answer the phone – and that is the most polite thing to do.  The phone is your tool and you use it when you want to, you see, not the other way around.  It’s not an electronic leash or digital umbilical cord, however invitingly taut.

But I also invite you, on those days when you’re not going to really want to listen, but it isn’t going to ruin any plans or interrupt any important work, to imagine next what it’s going to be like on that day when the phone stops ringing for good.

Just a thought.


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