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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Men Hate! Overlapping!

Do you know what men hate? Overlapping. You may ask, "What is overlapping?"

It's how women talk! Think of a group of women talking. What do we do? Women can interrupt another woman's conversation but we think of it as acceptable "overlapping." Men think of it as rude. 

What do men hate? Overlapping! Tweet that!

This is difficult for us to understand. When we women talk among ourselves, we will offer something to the conversation and no one minds. Women consider "overlapping" a way to show their involvement in the conversation in order to develop closeness. Men view it as disrespectful because they wait their turn--most of the time. Of course, all these comments are generalizations. 

In her book, You Just Don't Understand, linguistics professor Deborah Tannen explains, "In many of the comments I heard from people I interviewed, men felt interrupted by women who overlapped with words of agreement and support and anticipation of how their sentences and thoughts would end. If a woman supported a man's story by elaborating on a point different from the one he had intended, he felt his right to tell his own story was being violated. He interpreted the intrusion as a struggle for control of the conversation."

I decided to test this idea. I decided that when I next was in a group of friends with a particular male friend, I would purposely "overlap" him. I considered him a very spiritual and secure person. I choose him in particular so that I couldn't wonder, "Well, his reaction was only because he's insecure." 

I put my plan into action. As my "secure" male friend was talking, I deliberately interrupted him. Another woman would have thought I was contributing to the conversation and she would have responded with another aspect of the topic. What did my male friend do? Shut his mouth and not utter another word.

Think about this "overlapping" concept within the context of your marriage or in a business situation. Have you ever sensed another man emotionally withdraw after you "overlapped." At least you thought it was overlapping and contributing to the topic. But he most likely felt disrespected and interrupted.

I've found this information very important in giving my husband the blessing of respecting him. Let me know if you find this important. I'd love to hear.

(graphic by Stuart Miles found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)


  1. This is the first time I've ever heard this addressed and we just celebrated our 39th anniversary! Extremely timely and valuable for me! Thank you!

    My husband is very big on not being interrupted. Just like you said, he thinks it's rude. I have tried to explain that this is the way conversations sometimes go. People don't talk like a telegram: (How's it going? STOP. Fine. STOP. etc.). It is still difficult for me to discern when I can interject but I'm getting better and find the more I practice patience the better things go.

    I think my marriage has shaped me more than anything else in life. It has shown me who I really am, bringing me to my knees more than once. Our love is deep but not without work, forgiveness and God's grace.

    Finding your website this morning was no accident. It's encouraging me to keep practicing patience in order for my husband to feel respected.

    On to #40!


  2. Karen, I'm so glad you found my post. And I celebrate your coming 40th anniversary! I truly do hope the information on overlapping will make this next year full of more joy in your marriage than ever before. I'm thrilled the Lord used my post to encourage and give you insights. And by the way, I'm still learning when to interject and we'll celebrate 46 years this month! It all goes to abiding in Jesus and letting Him lead. God bless you!