I Finished Your Sentence Again????

The defining moment was years ago when I realized I was finishing thoughts for people. If they paused looking for a word, I supplied it. Copious words are always sloshing about in my head, and that is something I cannot control. No one pointed out my presumptive habit, so it must have gotten pretty bad for me to notice it myself. I slapped a mental block on my tongue and demanded patience to wait for people to find their own words without my help. Vigilance was not easy. Folks may have noticed my tightening lips, reddening face, and bulging fish-eyes. Inner-word pressure was explosive!

While walking recently, I enjoyed a chat with neighbor Marla. I was not aware of what I was doing. I think I let her finish her sentence, but I summed up the end of her thought in two words. She moved her head a fraction, looked at me, and agreed with a “yeah”. She said, “Right. You’re a writer, aren’t you?”

She said it in the nicest possible way, so I didn’t examine it immediately. Much later it occurred to me that her words could be damnation, not praise!

Not thinking of it as a lame defense, I explained, “I love words. I love people, and I love words.”

Marla smiled, and the incident was over. I would like to reopen it one more time to apologize. With no trumpet fanfare, my old habit resurfaced. I really didn’t pay attention right away until I finished a sentence for John, and he agreed with my choice of words. Golly Pete! I must devise a new, effective tongue-tie.

Many people reading this are writers. Do any of you have a problem like mine? Have you lost friends or been banished from gatherings because words burst out unbidden? Any thoughts of commiseration or wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, I’ll impose a gag order on myself.

120416 Anne gagged.JPG

43 thoughts on “I Finished Your Sentence Again????

  1. To be honest as I get older I find myself forgetting words in the middle of a sentence and would be glad of the help of a word empath to save me scrambling around inside my own brain looking for the little horror playing hide and seek with me.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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  2. I do it too but because I don’t have the patience to wait until they find the right word. Sometimes I supply a work and they say “no.” Then I supply another word (how bad is that?). I have David’s problem too. Sometimes a word escapes me as I’m trying to speak. Usually it’s a person’s name but sometimes just the perfect descriptor. Karma.

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  3. Some people’s minds move very fast – and see patterns which they just finish more rapidly than the speaker can sort through their brains.Rapid processors. I try to keep still unless it’s an ancient relative obviously searching for a word.
    It is so important not to look bored because you’ve already lightyear jumped to the end of their sentence/idea in your head….I’m not good at that.

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    1. How I wish I had a lightning brain!!! I’m the ancient relative here. My brain CRAWLS, but those words leap out like a pun that takes you by surprise. I’m sure the words in my brain have super springs on them. I’m going to have to feel my face to see if it goes bored. Thanks for that warning. I don’t want to inflict double injury — showing boredom while hurrying things up.

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  4. I think we are all part of a club or something? I thought I was the only one with this problem. And yes Anne, I know that lip tightening, reddening face, bulging eye feeling when someone is so slow with finishing their sentence. It is hard.
    Your picture is so funny! Maybe I should take one of myself to keep in my purse to serve as a reminder to myself?

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  5. Cute pic too! I’m only guilty of this with my Dad, he has a problem with his speech right now and can’t get the words out as fast as his brain thinks of them. I have to practice patience and not supply the words for him so that he exercises his brain. It is difficult for both of us Im sure!

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  6. duct tape … a cure-all for all. Amusing post Anne and the picture is priceless. There are times when I can’t resist and other times when I let the other say whatever – and there are times when I’m grateful when the other supplies the missing word 🙂

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    1. I think writers always tend to have the perfect word ready. The trick is to supply it under the right circumstance, which can be tricky. I’ve noticed that spelling has gone down, even among writers. I’m not terribly good at spelling, but I notice lots of mistakes from bloggers. As for duct tape, it is quite common here to see it spelled with a “k”. That’s the way people hear it, and spell checker doesn’t flag it. I made an error with a word in the last few weeks and didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out. I was grateful, especially since it was a real mistake and not just a typo. I’m slipping!

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  7. I think it can sometimes be a good thing to supply a word or two to the end of someone’s thought. It shows you are really paying attention to what they say and are in agreement with them. It’s not like you’re taking over the conversation, just embellishing their comments. (OR am I making excuses for perhaps having the same annoying habit…?) 🙂

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  8. Loved this post, Anne – I could *so* relate! I’m *always* doing this – and feel bad about it. I put it down to my simple impatience. I just can’t WAIT for the person to f i n i s h talking… I must take special care to restrain myself if I’m ever talking with a stutterer! Ay yi!

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    1. Evidently lots of people find themselves offering words to finish a sentence. I’m coming to think it isn’t as bad as I first thought. When you write about something, you tend to have the subject in your mind. I’m hoping I will be aware of what I’m doing and not hurt people if it’s just impatience on my part.

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  9. I do it all the time. As English is not our first language, when we converse in English, it is quite common for me with my superior air and vast reading to supply end words- like you, I have noticed it and sometimes consciously shut my mouth but the inevitable word sometimes slips out.
    But as someone above mentioned, my listeners don’t seem annoyed often and it seems to show them I am listening.
    Yes, perhaps it is because we are writers that words seem to flow easier with us . We need to draw others to speak more and for us to listen more.
    Susie

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    1. When you have the word that someone needs, it’s hard not to say it. You are right. We should be patient and let others speak. I’m thinking I might need diversionary tactics. The next time I’m waiting for a slow sentence to end, I’m going to analyze the speaker’s eyebrows. She’ll think I’m paying rapt attention by looking right at her, and I will have entertainment until the speech has ended.

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      1. I was thinking of your post lying down in bed and a thought came to me- it is these end word put in-ers who people miss most when they are gone.
        I have read one story at least of a man who said’ I miss that she used to complete my sentences for me”- I can’t remember if it was a spouse or a sibling.

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  10. Although possibly socially embarrassing at times, it must surely be good from the point of view of mental dexterity that you can anticipate other people’s words correctly! I’m certainly not in your league. My guesses are usually way off.

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    1. I admit I have more words to choose from than normal people. It’s because I was a poor speller. I would begin to write a good word, realized I couldn’t spell it, and picked another that I could spell. You need a very good vocabulary for that.

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  11. The comments were almost as hysterical as your post. All of them relate-able. (Sorry for the hyphen spell check kept redlining all my choices) LOL If you were talking to me, you’d have a challenge because my mind is going in a million directions all at once, so you’d have to second guess not only the words, but topic choices that are all over the place. You almost need to cipher my entire conversation, so says my hubby. He is always telling me “words mean something”, because I can’t seem to keep thoughts in conversation connected and I’m always having to explain myself. BUT… when it comes to others conversing? Yup! Hand me the duct tape too. Join the club. LOL Great post.

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    1. People really got into it, didn’t they? If I were talking to you, I’d assume my mind wasn’t quick enough to keep up with you. It happens to me with fair frequency that I think we’re talking about one thing and find out the subject changed without me.

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      1. Yes, they did get into it. Don’t you love it when a post gets such great responses? Interesting, what you just said about keeping up because even though my second marriage didn’t work out, when it came to conversation, my very high IQ ex had no trouble following my chain of conversation. He was the only one though. I don’t think it was just because he was smart but how his mind worked.

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  12. I change up people’s words in my head, though I’ve never spoken the more succinct wording out loud. What I struggle with the most is keeping myself from correcting their mistakes. When I was a kid, I appreciated the corrections, and I particularly liked listening for new words. I’ll never forget the Christmas when the weather was warm enough to wear shorts. My friend’s dad caught us as we were about to walk outside, and he insisted that she change into pants. He stated firmly that wearing shorts in December is uncouth. We were upset at his irrational demand, but I secretly loved the word he used. And her mom, an English teacher, corrected every spoken mistake we made.

    I soaked up the language in my friend’s house. So sometimes, yes, putting words in people’s mouths can be good. Young mouths, anyway.

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    1. That is amusing that the man said wearing shorts in December was uncouth. I do not apologize for correcting the English mistakes of my grandsons. They cringe and sometimes protest, but if I don’t correct them, nobody will. So far, I think I’ve managed to stifle my corrections of others. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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