DEAR ABBY: My daughter is 40 years old and a lousy conversationalist. She will answer questions, but her conversation always turns to herself and her narrow, specific interests. She never asks me (or others) about ourselves, and when she starts talking about herself, there's no stopping her. She seems to need to dominate every conversation.
She has always been this way, and I think it's partly because she's anxious. She was bullied as a child, and I think that contributes as well. When she was little, her dad and I talked about it, but he's very hands-off and didn't want to address it. Because of that, her style never changed, and I now think we made a mistake. Can you suggest a way I could help her, even now, to become better at conversation? -- SMOOTH TALKER IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR TALKER: You are well-meaning, but there is little you can do to turn your daughter into a better conversationalist. From your description, she may be deeply insecure. However, until she realizes that her coping mechanism is driving others away, your suggestions will be met with denial and ignored. The most helpful thing you could say, if she asks for advice, would be that she needs unbiased guidance, which she can find by scheduling some time with a licensed mental health professional.