Maryland Forward Party

PEP Talk Core Principles: Six Ways To Disarm Political Fights - Avoid "Monologues" & "Chaining"

29 March, 2024

Developed by Pete Oliver-Krueger, head of our Priorities and Policies Committee, the Prioritizing Epic Problems (PEP) Talk is a fresh approach to politics, encouraging constructive dialogue, bridging divides in political discourse and reaching consensus on identifying pressing issues. This is Part 3 of 6.

It is built on six core principles from the fields of Positive Psychology and Meditation. We'll be showcasing one of these principles each week as we head into Easter, Passover, and Holy Week. Together they can help turn arguments into collaborations. Hopefully some of them will help you to have better conversations at your family gatherings. 

If you missed the previous principles, click here to go to our news page, where you can find past articles.

The third principle in disarming political fights is to Avoid Monologues & Chaining.

Stop Monologuing


When you talk for 1 minute or more without letting another person talk.


A monologue is an acting term describing a particular mode of writing. Most script writing is “dialogue”, where lines are traded back and forth between 2 or more characters. A “monologue” defines one chunk of text in the script where a single character reveals something profound, pulling together insights from a recent dialogue, and other information available to the character, to provide a novel insight for the scene. As such, it often acts as a profound central “thesis” for the scene.

The “rules” of script writing require most of a script to be dialogue. The monologue by contrast stands out as profound because it is designed to weave together the last 10-20 minutes of dialogue into a single summary. Because of this setup, monologues are often towards the end of a scene, and full of emotion that has been building up over the previous. This makes them very powerful, very memorable, and very popular.


Monologues, however, are only profound in contrast to dialogue. Without the shared dialogue and buildup prior to the monologue, a monologue is often not as impactful as we are hoping that it will be. What happens instead is that the other person feels excluded, their brain wanders, they stop listening, and they just wait until it’s their time to talk. Then, because they’ve been sitting waiting, building up a list of things that they want to talk about, they respond with their own monologue or they use “chaining”. 

How did we get here? Most media today is 1-way: blogs, videos, talk radio, news reports. Each of these, by necessity, is in monologue format, and so it models the behavior of monologuing. That combined with the power of a good monologue makes monologuing “feel right”.
TIP: Look for more media that contains dialogues.



90% of your conversations should be dialogue, then use a monologue if you want to summarize what you have already discussed.

If you are monologuing…

If you are monologuing, provide places for others to enter the conversation, but whether or not they enter into a dialogue is up to them. Your responsibility is to open the door, pause your own talking, and keep the invitation open. It is their choice and their right as to whether or not to walk through that door.

It is actually okay to monologue, as long as the other person is okay with you monologuing. This is why it is important to keep holding the door open, pausing your own talking, and checking if anyone wants to enter into a dialogue.

CAUTION: The other person is not required to answer any of your prompts. If the other person doesn’t want to talk, but you keep prompting them to talk, that will be taken as manipulation. The subtle line is the difference between expecting an answer and simply opening the door. 

  • “Did that make sense?” (Pause for answer, but answer optional)
  • “Did I describe that well?” (Pause for answer, but answer optional)
  • “...but that’s just my experience. You may have a different one.” (Pause for answer, but answer optional)

If they are monologuing…

If the other person is monologuing, do not try to “teach” them how to dialogue. Instead, claim space for yourself in the conversation – in a respectful way – using short, quick statements or questions. When you “model” dialoguing with the other person it will be more impactful than telling them. After all, to tell them about monologuing would require delivering a monologue yourself, which would be hypocritical.

CAUTION: Interrupting to show them that you are listening, using short, quick statements or questions can be respectful. Interrupting to steer the conversation may be disrespectful.

  • “Did you say…?”
  • “Oh, you’re saying…” (but be gracious if you’re wrong.)
  • “Oh, so you feel…” (but be gracious if you’re wrong.)
  • “Did I hear…?”
  • “It looks like…”
  • “It sounds like…”
  • “Is this an accurate way to describe what you’re saying?...”

SUMMARY: To turn a monologue into a dialogue, aim to insert short, quick questions or statements that clarify or confirm the thoughts of the other person.




Stringing multiple thoughts or ideas together, especially when each of those thoughts could be a whole conversation on its own.


The basic biology of our brains is designed around linking thoughts and ideas together. When you think one thought, it may excite other cells in your brain related to other ideas. This is why chaining is so common, and infectious. Chaining is actually biologically natural, but it also makes for really difficult conversations, so we must guard against it.


People can get lost in the conversation and check out, or get frustrated and feel a need to take over the conversation in order to return to a previous topic. Chaining is also problematic because discussing multiple topics at once usually requires monologuing.


Stay vigilant and aware of your thought chains. Respect that the new topic is related, but get consent from the other people in the conversation before transitioning to a new topic.

If you are chaining…

Notice if you are frequently using the words “...and…”, “...but…”, or “...also…”, or phrases like “That reminds me…” or “...and another thing…” Acknowledge to others that you would like to talk about multiple things, but ask first if they are willing to change topics. Be gracious if they are not ready yet to leave the current topic.

TIP: If it is helpful, write down the new topics for yourself so that you don’t forget them.
Then ask later if you can return to a related topic.

  • “That reminds me of something. Is it okay if I switch topics?” (Be gracious if the answer is no. Other people may not yet feel heard on the current topic.)
  • “I think that _______ also applies here. Can I add that to the conversation, or can we talk about that next?”

If they are chaining…

If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or cannot effectively talk about multiple ideas at the same time, respectfully ask to split the ideas apart into separate topics. 

CAUTION: The other person may be completely capable of talking about all those topics at the same time, so you might want to own that it is your need to break those topics into separate discussions.

TIP: Write down new topics as they come up. It helps the person know that they will get to talk about it later, and also helps to visualize how many times the conversation is changing topics.

  • “Before we leave the topic of ______…”
  • “We can definitely talk about ______, but I’d like to wrap up on the current discussion first.”
  • “Sorry to interrupt, but can we talk about each of those topics individually?”
  • “I’m sorry. Those are all great topics, but I can’t talk about all of them at once. Can we talk about each of them in turn?”

Keep tuning in every week to see the next PEP Talk core principle in disarming political fights. As a preview, next week's topic will be Listen First Using the Double Aces, (a.k.a. Appreciations & Clarifying Questions)


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