DEAR ABBY: My problem is, I have lost the art of listening. When someone takes too long to get to the point, or includes irrelevant details, I completely lose patience. I work in a medical office with the same small group of women every day, and I like my job. However, I find myself trying to keep "extra busy" to avoid the boring, mundane chatter about things I don't care about.
Am I becoming an anti-social snob, or is there a way to participate in a conversation while resisting the temptation to roll my eyes and hurry someone along with my hands? I am not particularly chatty, and I don't divulge many details of my personal life -- so is it wrong to no longer care about the details of everyone else's? -- VERBALLY OVERLOADED
DEAR VERBALLY OVERLOADED: We usually get what we give in life. If you would like to receive empathy from those around you (should the need arise), then my advice is to be prepared to show some. Because you don't have time to listen to long stories, it's acceptable in an office setting to say that you are busy and have a limited amount of time to chat. In other words, if you're "verbally overloaded" -- verbalize.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I had our first child, a beautiful baby girl, nine months ago. We chose a name for our daughter while I was pregnant, but my in-laws refuse to use her first name. They insist on calling her a diminutive of her middle name. Now the whole family is doing it.
At first they claimed that some distant cousin (whom we have never met) had the same name. Now they say, "We don't like her first name, so we're going to call her ( )."
How can we convince them to call her by her given name? -- NEW MOM IN AUSTIN
DEAR NEW MOM: Your in-laws' behavior is rude and disrespectful. Tell them that unless they're prepared for their grandchild to call them "UNCLE Charles and AUNT Martha," they should get used to calling your daughter by the name you chose for her. If they refuse, limit their time with her until she's old enough to understand who she is so they won't confuse her.
DEAR ABBY: I'm "Troubled in North Carolina," whose letter you published on Feb. 23. Thank you for printing it. You will be happy to know that after the length of time you suggested, I did contact "Bethany." You nailed it. She did, in fact, go back to her ex-boyfriend. I'm OK with it, but what is disappointing is, she broke up with me by e-mail. I guess she didn't have the courage to face me.
After I wrote to you, I decided I wouldn't sit around and wait like a "sad puppy." I've been on a few dates and have met a lot of great women, but haven't settled yet. That's the thing: I'm not going to "settle."
There are so many times when "we men" can't open up and share how we feel. Thank you for being someone that "we" can talk to (even if it isn't really a conversation.) -- NO LONGER TROUBLED IN JACKSONVILLE, N.C.
DEAR NO LONGER TROUBLED: You're welcome. I'm pleased I could be a sounding board for you. I'm also pleased you jumped right back into the dating pool. Although Bethany may have had many admirable qualities, the fact that she took the easy way out and ended the relationship by e-mail rather than facing you is a clue to her character. You deserve better, and you shouldn't settle for less.
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