As related on The Conversation Assassin, I seem to have this ability to kill a conversation. But I figured some serious introspection on the issue would be nice, though it would be impossible to combine with my writeup there. But I digress.

    It was my sophmore or maybe my junior year of college, when at the fraternity dinner table, I say something and all conversation stops. All eyes are upon me, and a gentleman one year my junior says "That was a conversation killer, Art."
From that point forward, I've been referred to as the conversation killer. At one point, I was even nicknamed The God of Silence. I never quite figured out what caused it. Yes, TMI is a sure-fire way to stop a conversation. But that's obvious. It seems when I stop a conversation, I don't expect that to be the result of what I said. I have the power but I cannot control it. You can repeat that bit about every seven minutes or every thirteen minutes or whatever, but it was a disproportionate number of cases.

I have some theories, both serious and not-so-serious. The first is my arcane sense of humor. A female friend once described me as painfully funny. I love to make puns on an impromptu basis. While I've had the occasional big win with a pun or joke, more often than not they are groaners. So I could potentially be causing conversations to end with my jokes. This worries me occasionally, because it makes me wonder if I'm using my sense of humor to push people away. The big problem with this explanation is that it wasn't always a statement intended as humor that did it.

I also wonder if it's that these same puns, along with interjections and even regular conversational statements, are just very highbrow and require someone to take a moment to unravel the mystery of what I just said, stalling their brains. The advantage to this explanation is it explains the problem with the first theory. The disadvantage is that it seems to demean the intelligence of my friends.

But, perhaps, what if it is a power granted unto me? Things from the gods are not always presents. In which case, I need to learn how this ability works and how to control it. It really stinks when you're at a staff meeting, you say something, and everyone stops talking. Of course, this theory is a bit out there, even for me.

Picture this. There you are, enjoying a pleasant conversation with a group of people when all of sudden out of the corner of your eye you spot someone coming towards you and you feel a sudden sense of dread. This person, while maybe harboring the best of intentions, causes your eyes to roll up in the back of your head and to gather yourself by taking in a deep breath or two. Some of the other people gathered with you sigh audibly and immediately begin to disperse while the others that remain are preparing their excuse for an early departure. So, who is this person that approaches and warrants such drastic action.

No, it’s not a cop or any other member of law enforcement. It’s not a person asking you to sign some sort of petition nor is it a panhandler asking you to dole out some of your hard earned money.

In fact, it is the person who has somehow managed to gain the reputation as the dreaded conversation killer. I don’t care where you are, at the workplace, the local watering hole, a party or even if you’re out taking a quick smoke break you’ve probably met one or two of them in your life.

How do they do it?

Well, for starters they usually twist a conversation around so that they will always be the center of it. For instance, let’s presume that you’ve been speaking to the gathered audience about buying a new home. Once the killer arrives they will regale you about all of the trials and tribulations they experienced when they went through their own home buying experience.

Another popular tactic is for the killer to offer up advice for any topic under the sun. I don’t care if you’re talking about going out to dinner or what to wear to an upcoming event the killer knows best and won’t hesitate to inject their venom in the form of free advice.

Another sure fire way to kill an engaging conversation is to agree with somebody but then interject the inevitable “but”. An example might sound something like this.

“Hey borgo, I love that new car you just got but didn’t they have it another color?”


A good conversation usually allows time in between responses so that someone can gather their thoughts and make a meaningful comment or contribution. This is not so for the conversation killer. They see any pause or break in the give and take as an opportunity to fill the void with their own dialogue and once they start rambling it’s near impossible to shut them up.

So, how do you detect them?

If you’re meeting them for only the first or second time and they start asking you questions about your love life, finances, mental state or anything else of a deeply personal nature, especially in a large audience, beware!

How do you get rid of them?

That all depends on your personality and nature. It’s hard to ignore them so most people will just give up and make some excuse to move along. More daring folks might confront them and ask them to please mind their own business and for the few emboldened folks amongst us, a quick kick to the junk usually does the trick.

But then again, perhaps I’ve said too much.

Update: Here's some feedback given by fellow users:

IWhoSawTheFace says re conversation killer: Hey borgo, I love this writeup, BUT...

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