Jewish Conversation Style

Written to the song: Know Your Worth — Khalid & Disclosure

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Parque Bicentenario, Santiago, Chile.

A few years ago, someone brought up the point that I interrupt people in conversation. Ever since then, I have consciously worked at giving people the time and space that they need to speak — however, it is difficult! I recently stumbled on a TikTok explaining the concept of the Jewish conversation pattern which includes interrupting others as they continue to speak. My eyes have been opened.

“High involvement cooperative overlapping” is common among Ashkenazi Jews which includes: “fast rate of speech, the avoidance of inter-turn pauses and faster turn-taking among speakers.” (Tannen, 2000). This conversation style is usually positive — to display agreement or to share a relatable idea. However, conversation partners who are unaware of this conversation pattern may feel deeply offended or shocked by this habit, as interruptions are usually linked to being uninterested in someone’s perspective, hogging the conversation spotlight, or simply being noted as being rude.

Other Jewish conversation styles include touching on emotional topics, persistently revisiting a topic or question, or having a face-paced conversation where the topic shifts abruptly.

It is important to learn about and adapt to different conversation styles to recognize how connected our culture is to our speaking patterns.

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