Stereotyping Speakers

December 1, 2010
By Brent Porter BRONZE, Peoria, Arizona
Brent Porter BRONZE, Peoria, Arizona
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

As a human being, you will find yourself in a constant need of expressing your thoughts and ideas through various subjects and hobbies. More commonly, people convey their ideas through speech, as they are all helplessly compelled to go forth and be heard. As a result, you may find it helpful to discern your place as a conversationalist into one of the following categories: the interesting elephant, the loyal retriever, the aggravating squirrel, or the disruptive parrot.

“Interesting elephants” tend to create an unforgettable reputation, similar to the phrase commonly used in adolescence, “the elephant never forgets.” As they blow the typical situation completely out of proportion, rarely do these storytellers find their audience to not be entertained by their wild imagination cleverly intertwined with reality. For example, take the fleeing, two thousand pound elephant on the run from the not so impressively sized mouse. Clearly the elephant would be the more intimidating of the two, but the elephant reacts to the conflict through exaggeration of actuality. Respect is given to these characters because of their aptitude in bringing stories to life, making it easy for one to connect with certain characters or events in the story. Once the tale is passed on, listeners quickly find themselves retelling what happened, possibly with their own adjustments and perhaps throwing in similar phrases or words from the time before. On the other hand, “elephants” are looked down upon due to their ability to mix reality and fantasy together and inability to stop. Sadly, these people are not looked to for advice or comfort but to make the day just a little more exciting.
At times, you may find yourself longing to escape from the loud discussion and speak with someone who is willing to stop and listen. That is where the “loyal retrievers” are introduced. The term, “always by your side” fits all too well when looking into their personalities. When advice is needed, honest responses are returned. When you are distressed, retrievers will replace that feeling with comfort. When you tell a joke, they will try their best to laugh even if it is not funny. Benefits are limitless with a friend such as this one. Similar to the growing puppy’s love, these “loyal retrievers” seem to hold a sole purpose of fulfilling the role as the ideal friend. Obviously, the listener shoulders quite a bit of responsibility with the problems of others floating around in their mind. This can lead one to believe that he/she has a “retriever” of their own. In the end, most people can agree that the listener ranks as their most favorable individual.

Although one of the most interesting to talk to at times, the “aggravating squirrel” is someone who is not nearly as respected as the previous two speakers. The “squirrel” can have some similarity to the “elephant”, but still holds worthy and true to its own category. Their exaggerations are not intended to seek out the attention of the crowd, but rather to sway the audience into siding with them, making the story just as interesting. People claim to not want to associate themselves with drama, but in reality everyone loves the inside scoop on individuals as they discover what is hiding beneath the pleasant mask they put on. It is a mystery why anyone would trust precious information to someone as shady as an “aggravating squirrel”. The resolution to this profound question can be explained much simpler in visualization. A tiny squirrel rests on a tree branch as a distraught individual paces by only to find himself entrusting his feelings to this delightful animal. The next day, the squirrel has already spread the news throughout the whole animal kingdom leaving the man astounded that an adorable creature such as this squirrel could have caused so much destruction. In comparison, these gossipers wear the same shallow masks as the rest of their peers, but possibly just in a more convincing way. Maybe “aggravating squirrels” just enjoy the entertainment afterwards of stepping back and watching their handy work in progress. Perhaps the “squirrel” is born out of the listener who eventually crumbles away after hearing so much, and begins to let it all out to other people. Thus the renowned “understanding one” is demoted to “the bigmouth”. Naturally the gossiper will defend his trustworthiness, but once the title is placed, it sticks. Whatever the reason, people do not speak to them for anything beyond a nice behind the scenes story.

The key requirement of having a conversation is having two or more people conversing. A completely obvious statement, that you may think everyone understands. In contrast, there are the small minority who might think differently. We can call these people, the “disruptive parrots.” “Parrots” have mastered the art of interruption in a couple of ways. At times they may stop you in mid-sentence to announce something more important to themselves. In a more subtle occasion, they tend to go through an internal eruption when others speak for too long, illustrating a face of impatience, allowing themselves to be easily distracted. More recently, a cell phone may slowly slip out of the pocket during the conversation and without saying a word, the “parrot” texts away. Usually these are the people who even make the “loyal retrievers” seem uninterested and ready to convert to an “aggravating squirrel.” “Disruptive parrots” find themselves alone in parties frequently, or trying to get involved but still just appear as the wallflower. The truth is it is difficult to enjoy a one person centered conversation. Your ability to listen to “me, me, me” is limited, and once that limit has been exceeded you explode and create a new category for yourself, “the angry, insensitive jerk”.

When observing how people approach the simple function of speech in so many different angles, it can bring up many questions. It becomes clear that some people need more attention than others; some just enjoy listening and understanding, and others truly believe in openly sharing the lives of others for their own enjoyment. It is difficult to place any single person in just one category, because in reality we all fit under one of these roles at least once in our lives. Hopefully, you as the reader will be able to connect to one of these and maybe even try to be a better listener or storyteller or even give the other a chance to throw in his/her opinion once in a while. When looking at the broader picture and aside from all of these stereotypes, we find ourselves in one big category, needing to heard and talked to just as much as the next guy.

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