Growing up, I was always very diligent about practicing my instruments and, believe it or not, even doing homework for school. Unfortunately, all that work that I put into school generally didn't lead to particularly good grades. But that's a whole other story altogether. The point is, even though I was diligent about academics and music, I generally was not particularly hard working about, well, everything else. Socializing, organizing, planning, envisioning "big picture" ideas, developing a variety of interests (other than one specific talent, of which mine is music)--> I didn't really give much thought to these things. And I have mentioned these types of things in previous posts. It wasn't until September of 2009 (when I began meeting with my third therapist, of whom inspired much of this blog) that I even gave this any sort of thought. It was at that point that I really got to work. Practicing. Just the way I did with music and school work. I could go on and on about so many different types of practicing, so I'll start with just one particular little situational practice that I do--> Ending a phone conversation. Yeah that's right. Up until April of 2011, I never knew how to end a phone conversation. Obviously, it's simple."Bye." That's it. Or "Gotta run. Bye." Hang up the phone. Onto the next thing. What can I say? That's just not my style. Along with the gift of music, I also have the gift of gab (although apparently not the gift of modesty). When I'm on the phone, unless the person stops me, I'll go on forever. So if I'm talking to a fellow gift of gab person, it's going to be a VERY long conversation. At some point (I think around 2006), I recognized that my phone conversations would be taking the place of anything else I would try to do. So what did I do? Stopped using the phone altogether. Cold turkey. Done. Good luck getting in touch with me. This turned into a span of a few years in which a lot of people would try to get in touch with me, only to be completely avoided. I could imagine that this must have been very frustrating to them. To those who I haven't apologized to yet, well, yeah, sorry about that. Did I care or even notice that this was causing frustration amongst friends and family? Nah. Not really (as mentioned, I don't have the gift of modesty). But what I did notice is that I was starting to miss out on all sorts of opportunities. Music, parties, love interests. I was missing out on all of these important things! So, something had to be done.
I brought this issue up to my aforementioned therapist. At first, it took him a second to take it in. Really. How hard is it to end a phone conversation? But then he gave me a few nice things which I could say, and then said "Make sure you practice this." Low and behold, I came up with different rehearsed "lines," and I use them all the time now! I have different lines for different situations. Each line has an opening, a brief preemptive apology, and the nature of why it is absolutely urgent that I hang up. I also make specific adjustments to the vernacular I am using, according to who am talking to. These scripted lines are completely obsessive and are by no means necessary, but they have worked very well for me. Some examples are:
-Friend (male) "Yo man great talking to you! I'm hella sorry but I gotta cut this short. I really gotta call that girl back that I was telling you about."
-Family member (mom) "Great talking to you mom. I'm really sorry but I have to go. I have to get this paperwork done for work tomorrow."
-Music colleague (male or female, extra sentence added) "Great talking to you, (name). Sorry but I gotta run. Gotta be up in five hours. I really like what we have discussed and I look forward to playing with you again."
-Love interest (female) "Great talking to you (name)! I'm sorry but I have to go. I'm gonna finish this recording real quick and then get some rest. Let's talk tomorrow!"
So there you have it. Slight variations on different lines for different situations. I generally don't say those lines verbatim, but just having at them at my disposal in my brain sure helps a lot. It could be argued that the reason (or dare I say "excuse") part of each line isn't necessary, but I like having specific things to tell people. All of the reasons mentioned justify urgency. Each one totally in the style of each relation. It's no coincidence that I use the "finish this recording" line to a potential love interest. First of all, it sounds impressive. Plus, a conversation with a prospective mate generally puts me in a good mood and I want to translate that energy to a musical creation. Ah yes. The power of romance. BTW, I find that an argument generally leads to the same effect. In that case, the "line" would be something like "Look. This is frustrating. But you know what? I have an album to work on. We'll get back to this when we're feeling better." Where were we again? Right. Each reason makes sense to the person I'm talking to, and justifies urgency.
If I use these and for some reason the conversation continues, than that is when I will simply say "Gotta run. Bye." By that point, I have already established urgency and politeness, so I don't even think twice about ending the conversation abruptly. As mentioned, abruptly ending a conversation is not a hard thing to do, and is perfectly socially acceptable, but for me, it's VERY difficult, and I prefer to use the methods and "lines" that I have discussed. This is akin to musical improvisation, especially in jazz. I have a lot of lines at my disposal, and I pick and choose what to play and make variations on them. I will certainly go on forever about that in more depth, so "To Be Continued" on that one.
Anywho--> I hope that you have found these techniques helpful. They have worked well for me. Despite all of these ideas, it seems that the way technology is going, that text messages are far outweighing phone conversations. However, I am extremely confident that the telephone conversation will forever be a triumphant artform. I think that people will always talk on the phone. With that said, it was great talking to you. I'm sorry but I have to go to the stage and play my gig. We start in five minutes. Till next time, BGN over n out.