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How to deal with someone who talks too much in meetings

You have the right to enforce your boundaries. Here’s how.

Posted Apr 22, 2012

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

One day recently, Jean*, a young professional woman, started her session with me by ranting about one of her co-workers. “The man does not stop talking,” she said. “Today he asked me how my weekend went, and before I could utter a word he started telling me about everything he had done.”

We all know someone like this man—people who talk without listening, who seem to think that what they have to say is as fascinating to everyone else as it is to them, and who don’t seem to understand that listening is an important part of communicating and connecting to others.

What makes these people tick? What can we do about them? And maybe more important, what can you do if you happen to be one of them?

Talking is part of what we humans do. “What differentiates us from animals is the fact that we can listen to other people’s dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires and defeats—and they in turn can listen to ours,” Henning Mankell, author of the Wallander mysteries, wrote recently in The New York Times.

But people who talk too much don’t seem to get this balance. Why? A number of my colleagues on PT have written about the difficulty some of us have either listening to others or to ourselves.

“Listening requires complex auditory processing,” according to Daniel P. Ellis of Columbia University. We develop the capacity to listen automatically, according to Ellis, which is one of the reasons that even a very young child will react differently to the sounds of a robin’s song and a police siren. It is also a tool in learning. Maybe this last part—that says the ability to process complex auditory signals is an important factor in our ability to learn—explains why it seems that so many people who talk at us have difficulty learning how to​ ​​​​​​relate better. This is not to say that all people who talk incessantly are not deeply connected to others. But it does seem to make it difficult for them to recognize different moods and responses in their listeners.

In the best of communication, there is a kind of give and take between talking and listening, a sharing of who is the speaker and who is the listener based on mutual respect and caring about each other’s feelings. Some people who talk a lot are not able to engage in this interactive rhythm, not because they do not care, but because they cannot tolerate the emotions that might emerge as they listen to another person. In fact, in the course of my work as a therapist, I have found that many non-stop talkers actually use their words to stop themselves from knowing what they are feeling.

This is what happened with Max*, a smart, articulate man with two young children. His wife was threatening to leave him because, she said, he did not care about or understand her. Max talked his way through two sessions, almost without taking a breath, before I was able to interrupt him and ask how he was feeling. His eyes filled with tears and his voice cracked as he replied, “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that. I don’t want to feel how I’m feeling. I don’t want to think about how I’m feeling. I don’t want to feel.”

I asked Max if he thought that might be part of the problem that had led his wife to ask for a divorce. He nodded and said, “I haven’t been able to let myself feel anything for a long time. She thinks it’s because I don’t feel anything. It’s really because I’m in danger of feeling too much.”

Max had hit the nail on the head. Some people talk about themselves because they genuinely think they’re more interesting than anyone else they know. But many people, like Max, are overwhelmed by their own feelings and push them away by talking. Either way, these monologues are the opposite of the kind of storytelling exchange that Mankell describes, that bring us closer to other people. And both of these kinds of talking make it hard for a person to learn to manage his or her feelings in another way.

So what can you do if you’re troubled by a co-worker, friend or loved one who talks too much? Here are five simple suggestions that might help:

  1. First, listen—but not for too long. As you are listening, try to formulate for yourself what this person is trying to communicate: Is it a wish to be admired? A thought that they cannot get out of their head? A feeling that they cannot manage? (See my PT colleague Sophia Dembling’s terrific post about what it feels like to listen too long.)
  2. After listening for a little while and formulating what they are trying to communicate, ask them if they would mind terribly if you interrupt them. They might say, “No, no, I’m talking too much, you go ahead.” (Don’t get caught up in denying this truth out of politeness; it will just distract you both.) If they say, “Let me just finish this thought,” respond gently with something like, “Oh, I thought you had finished. Can I tell you what I heard you say?” (Of course, some people still have to say it their own way. Let them finish, since you won’t have a choice; but then interrupt them as soon as they start to move to something else.)
  3. When you interrupt, be ready to say something about what you hear them saying. Don’t go for a deep psychological explanation. Something simple and to the point, but if possible, something that reflects something positive about them. Don’t be surprised if they start to talk over you—many people talk over everyone else because they are afraid of criticism. Again, say, “Wait, I’d like to finish my thought now,” and then say what you were going to say about them.
  4. Don’t stop with a comment about them. Add some experience of your own that will confirm that you understand what they’re experiencing. A memory of a similar event, a similar feeling, a funny story—anything that gives you a chance to share your own experience but that you can tie to theirs.
  5. Stop the conversation when it goes on too long. It’s really not damaging to tell someone who you’ve been listening to for more time than you have to spare (and more than you want to give away) that you’re really sorry, but you have work you have to do and you’ll have to continue this conversation later. And if they are the kind of person who comes back later to continue the conversation, just say, “No, sorry, I’m busy right now”—because, finally, you have the right to protect your own boundaries.

* Names and identifying information changed to protect privacy and confidentiality.

You might also want to take a look at my post on showing off.

How many times have you faced the dilemma of the monologist?

You have begun a conversation with someone expecting a dialogue and quickly discover that the alleged partner in this dialogue is instead engaging in an interminable monologue. The discovery, while being an affront to your patience, is also a challenge to your essential understanding of the rules of politeness.

The monologue assault is endless, unedited, often repetitive, without insight to the nature of your attentiveness. The speaker, wrapped up in his narcissistic binge, hasn’t a clue to your interest level. He is convinced that you are enraptured by his monologue, an oral deluge about which you have long lost interest. Your mind is devising ways to protect itself from this onslaught by various strategies of mental avoidance, while you assemble your features as if you were listening to the Sermon on the Mount.

In a sense you are trapped, pinned like a dead butterfly, to the rules of politeness and avoidance of insult that you have been conditioned to obey. You know what you want to say to this person: that he talks too much, that he is being boring and repetitive, that his monologue has little interest to you, and that he is assaulting you with a barrage of words which are being rejected by you internally as useless barbs of boredom. Above all, you fear that any protest will bring insult. Worse, your entreaties might not stop the verbal onslaught since the speaker probably truly believes that his monologue is absolutely necessary for you to hear for your own good.

If I am alert enough, my strategy is sometimes a gentle interruption, usually to no avail. Even if the interruption is forceful, the speaker is sure to return to the subject when the interruption has run out of steam. The poor fellow hasn’t the insight to understand your dilemma. At times, you try body language signals, the glazed look, the long yawn, or some other forceful gesture, like repeatedly looking at your wristwatch, that might signal boredom or disinterest. In most cases this is an unsuccessful strategy, because the speaker has no clue to your inner emotions, barely noticing such gestures.

Indeed, you always have the sense, even if you quelled his verbal diarrhea for a brief moment, that he is always searching for the right opening to restart his monologue or begin another one, especially one that requires the copious use of that first person pronoun.

Privately, you vow never to be put into this position again. Even this strategy has its drawbacks, if this person’s spouse or partner is an essential part of your social or family circle and difficult to avoid.

Actually, I have one courageous friend, who, when the monologue reaches a point of no return, will rise from the table, or whatever venue he feels trapped in, and, without a word, simply disappear, leaving us with the assumption that he has obeyed a call of nature. This strategy, of course, occurs only when the monologist is assaulting a group and not a one on one situation. My instinct is to jump up and applaud him. Unfortunately, I am too timid to emulate his action.

My ultimate fallback strategy is based on something I once read about Bing Crosby, of all people. He had opined in the press that even as he was reciting his obligatory lines of dialogue while the cameras were running, he was thinking about how his horse was faring in the fifth race at Santa Anita.

Thus, utilizing all the multiple tracks available to the human brain, I perfected my latest strategy of escape. When a clueless monologist appears in my social setting, I take flight in my imagination and use my recall skills to wrestle with various story ideas humming in my mind, recall bits of music or memories, tell myself old jokes, or go over recent or past expenditures; I review my most recently read books, ponder today’s politics, or review any options on actions still to be taken.

Indeed, such a strategy has been often recounted in the memoirs of prisoners of war forced to bear the isolation of solitary confinement.

You may argue of course that this bit of written intelligence might be characterized as a monologue presented for your own good, but then you are not obliged to follow its coping directions and figure out your own.

I manage a team of engineers. For the most part everyone is self-motivated and doesn’t need much management. There is one engineer in particular, though, that is very difficult to work with. He has very strong ideas about how things should be done, yet is terrible about understanding the needs of the business or other departments. He feels insecure about his job yet doesn’t do much to change his work style. We’re pretty sure he produces poor documentation with the intent of improving his job security.

He also talks a lot. I don’t mind people talking with each other, but to a point where it doesn’t take away from your work. When he talks with me, I’m happy to hear what’s going on for him but then when I start to give signals that I need to get back to work, he’s very slow to get it. And in particular, he seems to talk with one other sympathetic engineer a lot. The other engineer otherwise works pretty hard but I’ve seen their conversations go on for 20-30 minutes at a time.

I think he feels the need to talk because of insecurities about his job and about his personal life, but this is a workplace and while he’s here I need him to focus. What can I do about this?

5 Answers 5

It doesn’t sound like you’re managing your employees too well. I don’t mean to sound rude, but you’re their manager, not their friend. Listening to his life problems is not what you’re there to do, and you should inform him of this ASAP.

Short term solution

If he’s taking up your time with trivial conversations then instead of dropping hints simply say:

I’m sorry Joe, but I have some things I need to finish. (and turn away)

Similarly, if you see this person taking up other people’s time step in:

Hey guys, I can see that you’re talking about something really interesting, but it’s eating up a lot of company time. You should continue your conversation over lunch/after work, ok?

If this person’s attitude continues then have a chat with them in private:

Joe, I understand that you enjoy talking with your fellow developers, but I’m afraid that this is a work environment. We have to keep our interactions professional, and get out jobs done. If you want to discuss personal issues please do so outside of work.

Similarly, tell your team to stop indulging him!

This won’t be gaining you any friends, but it will solve your immediate problem.

Long term solution

For a more long term solution you may consider helping your employee actually become a better developer. A lot of managers seem to ignore that part of their role is also helping their employees grow.

You can set up a meeting with him and perform a code review. Explain to him that you need better quality documentation, and pick a few methods to work on together so that he understands what the expectations are.

This way, if he fails to improve at least you know there’s really no hope for him and you can fire him with a clear conscience.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

When the subtle cues don’t work, you need to be more direct.

It’s probably best to address these issues separately.

Business strategy: Assuming you have clearly communicated the vision of your company and how your team fits into the big picture, you may need to take this person aside and explain exactly what is off base about the specific ideas being articulated. Being specific is key to turning it into a good teachable moment. It’s important to make sure the person understands you are taking the time to explain because you value them as an employee and want them to succeed.

Time spent chatting: Best to just be very direct with this conversation. “I enjoy catching up with you from time to time on personal stuff, but it’s starting to get in the way of work. We have a lot to do here, and we need to stay on task as much as possible to ensure we are meeting our obligations and hitting our deadlines. Let’s try to limit the longer conversations with colleagues to lunch time, breaks and after work.”

Documentation: If you don’t have formal standards you can still provide examples of what you consider to be “good” documentation, and explain clearly WHY they are good. Similarly, if this person is not producing what you want, go through some samples of his work with him and explain in detail what is specifically that is lacking. Then explain your expectations for improvements.

Don’t worry and fret about this for too long – best to just get it done and move on. You’ll feel better knowing you have made your best effort to communicate your expectations as manager, and if improvements are not forthcoming, it’s 100% on the employee.

A good conversation is all about the back-and-forth; both parties listening and responding. If you’re with someone who tends to ramble on and on, however, that dialogue turns into a monologue. Here are a few tips for dealing with a Chatty Kathy or Mr. Chatterbox.

Helping someone to stop rambling isn’t always easy, but there’s only so much you can listen to before you can’t take it anymore. Notice how I said helping, however. As easy as it is to pigeonhole every rambler as someone who cares only about themselves, there’s a good chance they’re not even aware of it. Or maybe they are aware of it and would actually like some help to get better at keeping things short and sweet. So try to keep that in mind as you attempt to get the conversation back on track.

Stop Them Before They Get Started

If you know the person as a rambler, cut them off before it happens. If possible, get them to summarize, and more specifically get them to summarize how they feel about whatever the topic is. Have them go straight to their point instead of leading into their thought with supplementary information that’s not essential to the discussion.

Questions are a great thing to do in any conversation , and asking questions also let you steer the conversation in any direction you like. When you notice them begin to ramble, redirect them to another topic or issue related to what you were talking about. It re-enters you into the conversation and adjusts their train of thought just enough to stop their rambling.

Lastly, if you know them well enough, tell them they ramble . Remember, they may not actually know that they do it and may welcome some help. Be polite and explain that they have a tendency to say more than they need to. Express that you totally get them and that there’s no need for them to over-explain things.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

The Awkward Human Survival Guide: How to Handle Life’s Most Uncomfortable People

Life is full of awkward moments. We meet people who share intimate details about their personal…

Listen, Understand, and Interrupt Politely

If you can’t stop them right from the start—or you don’t know them well enough to try yet—you’ll have to prepare to shut them down. Listening may be the last thing you want to do when you’re wondering if someone will ever stop talking, but it’s pretty essential for this method to work. It’s important that you’re actually listening too—even if it’s far more pleasant to zone out and pretend you’re on a beach somewhere. Ignoring them can actually make it worse because they feel like they have to keep explaining or reiterating something in order for you to understand it, so do whatever you can to stay engaged. Show that you’re listening with visual and minor verbal cues, and do your best to understand what point they are trying to get across.

How to Deal with Chronic Complainers

We all know at least one chronic complainer: someone who truly believes the world is out to get…

When you’re ready and a good moment arises, Diane Barth at Psychology Today suggests you interrupt them in the most polite way possible :

They might say, “No, no, I’m talking too much, you go ahead.” (Don’t get caught up in denying this truth out of politeness; it will just distract you both.) If they say, “Let me just finish this thought,” respond gently with something like, “Oh, I thought you had finished. Can I tell you what I heard you say?” . When you interrupt, be ready to say something about what you hear them saying. Don’t go for a deep psychological explanation. Something simple and to the point, but if possible, something that reflects something positive about them.

It will be tough because interrupting someone is inherently rude by nature, but sometimes it’s the best option. If you play your cards right, you can show that you really hear what they’re saying and finally get a word in. When you’ve shown them that you understand their point, sharing a comparable feeling or memory will also show empathy and help suffocate their talkative fire.

Remove Their Audience

Some ramblers enjoy the attention that comes from people listening to them. They could be attention hogs, or even people that just don’t get enough attention in general, and they can be trickier. When all else fails, you need to take away the attention they’re getting. If you’re in a group, one Quora user suggests a somewhat rude, but effective way to handle the attention seeking ramblers :

. start a new topic/conversation with someone else in the round who feels equally annoyed by the ‘entertainer’. Nothing makes a rambler feel more awkward than losing his/her audience so refuse to be audience and be a communicating dialogue-partner with someone else.

If it’s just a one on one conversation and you’ve had enough, explain that there’s something you need to do and duck out. You can even put a time limit on the conversation right from the start so you know exactly when it’s time to go. Your time is valuable and not everyone is going to respect it. Sometimes you just have to say “sorry, I need to go.”

How to Get Rid of People Who’ve Overstayed Their Welcome

Ever had friends or family who somehow manage to turn a quick meeting into a four hour ordeal? It’s

People get excited about things and some people don’t have someone to share things with. Maybe you’re the only one they know that will actually listen to them. You don’t have to be a pushover, but they’re only human. However you try to help a rambler stop, be kind, and remember that everybody rambles every once in a while.

If you have difficult people in your meetings, how can you manage them more effectively? What are the best strategies for dealing with people who are argumentative, disruptive, negative or just not contributing?

The first step is to recognize how important it is to deal with the problem. Difficult people will upset the balance of the meeting, kill the momentum, de-motivate people and keep you from accomplishing critical tasks.

There’s a big difference between people who participate in a lively discussion, challenge conventional thinking and contribute to the idea pool – and those who go negative, make it personal and create bad feelings. Positive conflict happens when a group of bright, motivated people get together to brainstorm – that’s healthy for an organization. As the leader of the group, you want to encourage that – ask people for their opinions and get the best stuff on the table.

What if you don’t have that positive energy flowing through your meetings? What if everyone leaves your meetings feeling frustrated and deflated? How can you change the dynamic?

Here are a few tips from Speak Like A CEO that will help you get your meetings back on the right foot.

Tips on promoting positive conflict:

• Create a safe, open environment where people can speak their minds

• Encourage all participants to speak up, and don’t let anyone dominate

• Use decision devices such as pros/cons, evaluation sheets, grids to evaluate ideas

• Set the ground rules for your meetings and enforce them

Tips on managing negative conflict:

• Listen to conflicting views

• Identify common goals between participants

• Build on agreements you already have as you try to resolve differences

• Avoid placing blame and making accusations

• Depersonalize through your own words – it’s not about the person, it’s about the resolution of a problem or challenge

• Look for a win/win so that everyone feels they have contributed

• Communicate respect to everyone at all times

• Use a positive tone even if others are going negative

• If conflict persists, take the issue offline and talk about it after the meeting

• Zero tolerance for personal attacks – never allow it to happen, stop it when it does.

Following these guidelines can help encourage a healthy meeting environment.

As a meeting leader, your job is to lead. Everyone else in the room expects you to step up and manage the difficult people. In fact, if there are disruptions, or if a meeting goes negative, people will often blame the person leading the meeting.

Here’s a profile of types of people who can disrupt a meeting. Take a minute to review these to see if the descriptions match “difficult people” in your organization.

People Who Argue

Although debate and controversy are usually healthy for organizations, some people push it; they argue miniscule points, don’t see others’ views, or don’t understand the value of compromise. They may be angry, feel misunderstood, or enjoy challenging a leader. They often don’t know how much they irritate others, and how they are perceived.

People Who Dominate

People who dominate have similar traits; they may also be poor listeners, or talkative people, or they may have an agenda. They go on and on, to show-off or demonstrate superior knowledge or ability. They are unaware of the purpose – to generate many ideas, allow participation, build consensus. They are also unaware of the effect they have on others and sometimes may be rewarded for this behavior.

People Who Have Side Meetings

People who are talking during the meeting may have an emergency, but often they are bored. This may be because you have spent too much time on the topic, or because they are self-important, rude and unaware of the effect of their behavior on others. You can’t have an effective meeting when there are other meetings going on.

How do you keep these types of people from disrupting your meetings? First, recognize the type of person you are dealing with. Then, think strategically. Try employing these techniques to get them to change their behaviors:

People Who Argue

• Prevent by having a pre-meeting discussion

• Intervene by confronting the argument

• Draw out objection with question

• Turn it over to the group to judge

• Point out the negative impact

• Keep it professional, not personal

People Who Dominate

• Enforce time limits and ground rules

• Prevent by pre-meeting discussion

• Intervene by asking questions of others

• Avoid recognizing the dominator

• Look for a place to break-in

• Thank them for their contribution

• Ask for other opinions

People Who Have Side Meetings

• Discuss privately after meeting

• Glance in their direction

• If that fails, walk near them

• Or, go quiet, stop the meeting

• Let them finish their conversation

• Ask their opinion about topic

• Sit next to them

If you recognize the different ways people can disturb a meeting, you’ll be ready to handle them appropriately. Follow these tips and you’ll be one step closer to becoming an A+ meeting leader.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

Written by Suzanne Bates

Suzanne is CEO of Bates, an internationally recognized thought leader in communicative leadership, and the author of four bestselling business books including Speak Like a CEO and All the Leader You Can Be. After a 20+ year career as an award winning television journalist, Suzanne founded Bates in 2000 with a mission to help leaders shape the world by engaging, aligning, and inspiring people to act. She has developed proven coaching and consulting methodologies and leadership programs that are now used by hundreds of global companies to help their leaders drive business results. In 2013, Suzanne and her team developed and launched the Bates ExPI, the first research-based, scientifically validated assessment to measure executive presence. She is a sought after speaker and has been featured on the TODAY Show and in the Wall St. Journal, Fortune Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and The Huffington Post, among other publications.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

Very few people would say meetings are exciting, efficient, and overall, a great addition to a packed workday. Yet, they’re a necessary evil in the workplace.

However, there’s good news! And that is that you have the power to improve them by taking one small little action: staying quiet.

If you have a great idea, have a strong conviction, or are called upon to weigh in, then yes, speak up. But, if you’re just talking to be heard and to be considered an active participant by your manager, then you have permission to zip your lips.

How do you know when you should speak up and when you should sit silently? Here are three signs you’re actually talking too much:

1. You Repeat Your Co-worker’s Thoughts Without Adding Anything

It’s great when your colleague says something you agree with. But, when you go on and on about how much you concur, it adds time to the meeting. Not only that, it’s a great way to annoy the rest of your co-workers, who probably have other important things they have to attend to.

What to Do Instead

I’m not suggesting you stop agreeing with your co-workers when they have a great idea. And if you have something in mind that you think would propel that thought forward, you should absolutely bring that up. However, if you just agree, feel free to acknowledge that and move on. Simply saying, “Yes, that’s a good point” will go a long way in moving the conversation forward without adding unnecessary noise to the room.

2. You Relate Everything to Your Personal Life

If this is the case for you, congrats. It sounds like you’re part of a team you’d spend time with out of the office, and that is something you should be really excited about. However, if you’re using “personal examples” to illustrate every thought during a meeting, you’re making it way too easy to get off-topic. And you’re probably over-sharing.

What to Do Instead

The best meetings I attend typically reserve the first few minutes for everyone to catch up. But once those few minutes are up, that’s it. Everyone’s attention turns to the task at hand. Even if you’re not leading the conversation, this is still a good mental note to keep for yourself. Unless you’re asked to provide a personal example, or you have one that illustrates the point so perfectly, save it for another time.

3. You Start Debates That Aren’t Relevant to the Conversation

It’s frustrating when you and your team are trying to sort through the details of a tricky project, only to have someone derail the conversation by completely changing the subject. Although you probably have good intentions and usually aren’t trying to bring up a new topic entirely, it’s a time waster, especially because the team now likely has two unresolved issues to get through in a limited amount of time.

What to Do Instead

The solution here is simple—stay engaged in the debate everyone is having. Of course, bring up relevant tangents if it relates back to the meeting’s goal, but don’t interrupt a conversation everyone else is having, just so you can bring up that great idea you’ve been thinking about forever. Waiting just a few minutes will not only help you be present in the current conversation, but it will help you avoid seeming like a “me first” teammate to the rest of your colleagues.

The surprising truth is that the solution to appearing like a contributor during a meeting doesn’t involve talking until you’re blue in the face. Rather, it involves listening to what people are saying and doing your personal best to drive the meeting forward—whether that’s with thoughtful comments or just an approving head nod.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

One of the basic needs we all have is to simply be heard. We want friends to listen fully in order to understand our feelings and opinions. In order to do this, a friend needs to be proficient in active listening, where they not only pause to let you speak, they take in the nonverbal clues you’re giving them as well.

People are rarely good at listening. This is true even of our best friends at times. We live in a busy world, and the ability to put it all aside and focus on someone else is lacking in our society as a whole.

The problem is, friendship dies when one of the friends doesn’t feel validated. If you have a friend who constantly talks over you, here are some tips on how to handle it.

“You’re Talking Over Me” or “Please Hear What I Am Saying”

We have to educate people in how to treat us. Perhaps a friend doesn’t realize that talking over someone else is a bad thing. Maybe they grew up in a family where everyone interrupted each other and they think this is normal behavior. Perhaps they feel talking over someone shows enthusiasm, or maybe they really do believe they know better and don’t want to hear what you’re saying.

If this person has many long-time friends or one close best friend, chances are they have developed a habit of interrupting. This is true of solid friends who have known each other a long time and understand each other’s personalities. Interrupting gets more frequent and forgiven because they know their friendship won’t be damaged by it.

But even with long-term friends, there are times when one person just needs to remain silent and give their full attention to the other friend. If your friend’s constant interrupting is hurting your friendship (even if they don’t mean to harm the relationship), you have to let them know. If you continue to say nothing and instead get silently frustrated when they blab over you, you’re giving them the message that this is okay. So it’s up to you to let them know it isn’t.

First, start small with the obvious. Some things to say to stop their interruptions:

  • “You’re talking over me”
  • “Please listen to what I am trying to say”
  • “Please hear what I am telling you”

Say one of these phrases calmly to give your friend a chance to take a step back and realize that the way they are aren’t responding isn’t acceptable to you. It gives a clear halt to the conversation that lets them know you need to be heard.

When Interrupting Continues

Some friends make a habit of interrupting which becomes part of their personality. If you’ve let them know you don’t appreciate it and they continue, you have to speak more sternly about it.

First, use specific instances when they have interrupted you. Don’t say “you always butt in” or “you are always cutting me off.” Give them an example of when they cut you off and how it made you feel. For example, “You talked over me when I was trying to tell you about my sister. I feel like you haven’t really heard what I’ve tried to say about her situation.”

Your friend may respond, “I know what you’re going to say, that’s why I interrupt” or “I’ve heard it a million times.” If that’s the case, ask them to please reserve judgment and really listen. Tell them that while they think they’ve heard it all, you don’t feel heard, and you’d like to be able to explain yourself without them interrupting you.

Keep Your Cool With Someone Who Interrupts

People that interrupt you all time have their own problems, but that doesn’t mean you need to point them out. Chances are that a friend who talks over you is insecure, afraid that their own opinions will be challenged. Attacking them verbally in retaliation isn’t helpful to the current problem or your friendship as a whole.

  • Point out how many times you’ve sat and listened to them. (Chances are you’ve listened to them far more than they’ve listened to you, but they won’t see it that way.)
  • Use the “always” phrase to describe their behavior. (“You always interrupt!”)
  • Talk about the things they mention all the time and you’re sick of hearing. (Someone that interrupts a lot probably talks more about their problems than other friends.)

How to Maintain Dignity With an Interrupter

Interrupters aren’t just rude, they also get loud. The louder you might try to talk to be heard, the louder they’ll respond. This means you’ll both be raising your voices to each other and neither one of you will be listening.

Instead, back down. Remain silent, remove yourself from the situation (walk away from them or politely hang up the phone), and regroup. A person who repeatedly interrupts either isn’t aware of their behavior or doesn’t know how to really be a friend. This is especially true if they complain or vent to you but yet interrupt when you need center stage.

Spend some time away from that friend and limit conversations with them. Perhaps there are just certain subjects you find you can’t talk about, so you can see your friend and just avoid those topics.

Perhaps you find that they weren’t the good friend you thought they were. Where you needed someone to give support they could only hear their own voice. In this case, move on from them and seek out other, kinder friends who understand what give and take in a friendship is all about.

Most of all, don’t get angry with this person. Forgive them and understand that not every friend you meet will be able to respond the way you wish they would. Continue meeting new people and slowly showing your vulnerable side to the people you’ve developed trust with.

What to Say When They Ask What’s Wrong

Your friend may not have any idea why you’re upset with them or why you’ve pulled away, so if they ask, tell them calmly why you’ve stepped back. Don’t use this moment to unleash your hurt feelings or anger on them, but tell them kindly that this issue is important to you and you simply wanted to be heard. (Here’s more about being gently honest with a friend.)

Remember that everyone has a different level of comfort with communication and even friendship. Your friend may fail to see the issue even after you explain or even find your feelings “silly.” Allow them their feelings and move on to share your stories with another friend who will care enough to listen.

How do you handle a situation as a team manager or coach where one member of the team seems to dominate the conversation? The scenario below is based on several experiences where team members think “that person’s talking rubbish!” but don’t know how to address it. This blog shows how the Ladder of Inference can be used to deal with these difficult or complex issues productively.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

Mike, the Development Team Manager, sat in on one of his team’s retrospectives. During the meeting he noticed that one member of the team, James, was taking more turns speaking than other members of the team and often speaking for a long time about how he wanted to solve problems he saw. Mike noticed that the rest of the team had stopped talking. While James was talking the others were like ‘frozen statues’ looking at the ceiling or their shoes.

After the meeting, Mike went up to one of the team members who had leaned back in their chair so much that they were almost lying horizontal and asked “Can you tell me how useful you thought that meeting was?” The team member said “It wasn’t very good; James spent most of the time talking utter rubbish!”

Mike approached James later in the day “James, I had some observations about how you acted during that meeting that I wanted to check with you. Would you be interested in talking about this?” James said he was interested in hearing more about it.

Mike continued “I noticed that you took more turns speaking than others in the group and often spoke for longer than other people. Did you notice that or did you see it differently?” James said that he’d thought that might have been the case.

“I observed that when you were speaking others in the team weren’t looking at you. In fact one person was leaning back to the point of being horizontal and the others were often looking at the ceiling. How does that match your experience?”

James said that he was aware he might have been talking for too long, but that this was because he was trying to avoid being too “black and white” when describing his views.

Mike agreed that he had seen James be less extreme in his description of the issues in the meeting, then said “From my point of view, if people weren’t looking at you then this suggested they were probably not listening to you, so it would have been unlikely that you were communicating effectively with them. Can you understand how I’ve arrived at that view?”

“I agree, I’m just struggling to know what to do – on the one hand I can bee too extreme with my views and that stops people talking, but when I try and be less extreme I talk for too long and they also stop listening” said James.

Mike was pleased to have found out more about what James was struggling with. They talked a bit more about what lead James to experience this bind before going on to design options so that James could act more effectively in future.

“If you were in this situation again, is there some help that you could ask for from me or the team to help you recognise that you were starting to speak for too long?” asked Mike

After that they had a discussion that James would start the next retrospective describing the bind that he was in to the group and asking someone on the team to give him a visual signal, such as raising their hand, if they thought James was starting to lose people’s interest.

There are several points I wanted to highlight in this scenario:

  • The feedback from the other team member “he just talked a lot of rubbish” was a high level evaluation that couldn’t be shared publicly with James because he’d likely feel quite defensive and accused.
  • Mike started out by offering James an invitation about whether to have the conversation.
  • Mike walked up the “ladder of inference” from the bottom ‘rung’ of directly observable data, to the meaning Mike made of what he saw, and finally to the evaluation that Mike took (“It’s unlikely that you were communicating effectively when you continued to talk even when others were visibly not paying attention”).
  • Mike did this is in a way that remained curious about how James saw the world, and open to the fact that Mike may have missed other cues or come to the wrong conclusions. Mike showed this by checking for James’ view at each “rung of the ladder”
  • Mike balanced sharing his view at each rung of the ladder with asking James for his view. This style meant that Mike was able to uncover the bind that James felt in, which also provided a possible explanation of James’ behaviour.
  • Finally, Mike was able to work with James to jointly design a way to improve this situation in future.

I believe this scenario shows how adopting a curious mindset, combined with using the ladder of inference, results in more productive sharing of information which helps design more effective future actions.

I’ve seen clients who have taken these approaches to benefit from reduced time to solve problems, more productive team conversation and a better experience of working as a team.

Is your cubicle the unofficial office water cooler? Are you tempted to set up shop in the handicapped stall just to close a door and get some work done? This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen offers 5 tips for when Jeff from accounting stops by to give you the play-by-play of his morning workout.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

Listener Brian wrote in with a dilemma. Like many office workers, he works in an open cube environment. He’s friendly and easygoing, but finds he’s a magnet for coworkers taking a break from their own work. People pull up a chair next to his cube and chat, sometimes for up to half an hour! And when they’re not hanging out in his cube, they’re often hanging out nearby, having a loud conversation or talking on the phone.

Brian’s work involves a lot of math and computer programming. In other words, his work is—you know—work. Brian says he’s even tried pulling his file cabinet’s drawer open as an ersatz privacy wall, which, unfortunately, his boss was quick to label as anti-social and a sign of not being a team player.

All in all, Brian asks how he can be more assertive, defend his space, and tell people he needs peace and quiet without letting resentment build or coming across as a jerk.

Therefore, this week, let’s dive into what to do when Donny from marketing stops by to show you his latest cat video.

One problem is the environment itself; here, science is on Brian’s side. In a study out of the University of Sydney, two architecture professors investigated the tradeoffs between open-plan versus traditional offices. The advantages of open-plan offices are, theoretically, better teamwork, creativity, and “ease of interaction.” But the study found that forced interaction did not offset the disadvantages of an open-plan office, which matched Brian’s experience exactly: noise and lack of privacy.

However, the real problem is that Brian is trapped by the Chatty Cathys and Garrulous Garys of the world. It’s a feeling familiar to many of us quiet types, and it’s not exclusive to the office—it can happen at parties, family get-togethers, or anywhere small talk leaves you scanning the horizon for an escape route. Ellen Degeneres likens the feeling to being on a highway with no exits when you have to pee.

Why Do Some People Talk So Much?

This begs the question: Why do some people talk so much? Some talkers fill empty space with nervous chatter to relieve their anxiety. Others keep up a stream of verbal filler because it keeps their brain distracted and off their emotions. Still others talk because they find it rewarding to talk about themselves. Indeed, everyone needs someone in their life to whom they can report what they had for lunch. Unfortunately, not everyone—including Brian—wants to serve this function.

We’ve all tried subtle cues to signal we don’t want to talk, such as, “Okay then,” or continuing to type while the person talks. But it seldom works. A recent study in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior even tested a classic subtle technique—avoiding eye contact.

In the study, conversations were staged between two actors and a participant. The actors were instructed to offer verbal approval like “Yes, I agree,” “Exactly,” or “Good point,” at specific intervals. What differed is that in half the conversations, the actors agreed only while making eye contact, while in the other half, they commented while looking away—a subtle cue we often use when trying to bring a conversation to a close.

So, did the participants pick up on this and talk less? Not at all. Avoiding eye contact had no effect. Even worse, the study found the participant chatted more to whichever of the two actors talked less.

You know the feeling. You’re busy at work, trying to focus, when a co-worker distracts you with a long-winded story — one of the many anecdotes you’ll hear that day.

You nod politely and smile, praying they stop talking so you can get back to work. But they don’t take the hint.

How do you get a co-worker to quiet down without causing offense? Here’s some advice for handling this delicate, all too common scenario.

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They probably don’t realize they’re annoying you

Maybe your colleague gets anxious and talking distracts them, or perhaps they simply want to be liked by everyone. Chances are that talkative co-worker has no idea they’re distracting you.

Remember they’re not trying to irritate you, and it will be easier mentally for you to deal with them.

Set boundaries for your loud, overly talkative coworker

It’s so simple, but most of us are afraid to say we’re too busy to talk. If you’re on a deadline or concentrating on a complex task–just say so! You can then walk away or get on with your job assuming they’ve heard and understood you.

Too often we assume we’re going to hurt someone’s feelings. You won’t – there’s no social law against communicating your feelings politely.

It’s possible to be diplomatic and assertive at the same time. Don’t be afraid to repeat the message if they keep talking–and if you like your co-worker, you can always arrange an alternative time to catch up, for example over lunch.

Provide examples and be specific about how they’re excessive talking affects you

You should explain to your distracting co-worker what it is you’re working on and why you can’t talk. Interruptions cause you to lose focus, and it takes time to regain your concentration. Whether you’re working on a report or about to make a call, simply explain yourself.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings

What if your talkative co-worker is your boss? Mention you’re making a call in five or ten minutes, or you’re due at a meeting.

Even better, try to ask questions by email–not only does this let you keep written records of managerial instructions, but you can keep the conversation focused.

Use your body language

Most people can intuitively pick up on another person’s waning interest. If you start fidgeting, don’t make too much eye contact and start pulling away from the conversation, your co-worker will likely get bored and end the conversation.

Tell your manager

If a talkative co-worker isn’t taking the hint, it might be best to discuss your problem with your manager. They can take steps to resolve the issue diplomatically – just be sure to try to resolve the issue with your co-worker on your own, first.

Get some privacy

The trend towards open-plan offices can make it hard to escape distractions and noise. However, phone calls, important documents, and research are all better attended to in quiet spaces.

Perhaps your office has meeting rooms, but these are often booked up. Where else can you go?

Zenbooth office phone booths​ are private, self-contained units for employees to use if they need peace and quiet to work.

If you know a co-worker likes to talk, but you need to concentrate, escaping to an isolated space before they approach can eliminate the need for any awkward conversations or excuses.

Unobtrusive, easy to assemble and compact, all offices can make room for a Zenbooth or two. Suggest the Zenbooth to your boss at your next opportunity, and watch your productivity and concentration soar.

WHAT you have to say isn’t as interesting as you think. Here’s why people tend to talk more than they listen, and why it’s a problem.

October 19, 2013 10:47am

Oh god. Please. Stop. Talking. Picture: Warner Bros Source:Supplied

YOU talk too much.

Even if you think you don’t, you do, says Simpsons writer Rob Lazebnik.

In a piece for the Wall Street Journal Mr Lazebnik implored people to take a simple test:

“After your next long conversation with someone, estimate what percentage of it you spent talking. Be honest. No, you’re already underestimating. How do I know? Because it’s more fun to talk than to listen. Talking is like drinking a great cabernet. Listening is like doing squats.

“Add another 20 per cent to your total.

“If you talked more than 70 per cent of the time, you jabber too much.”

Mr Lazebnik, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome, has learnt a lot about conversational dynamics. And while he may be generalising a little too broadly when he says that everyone talks too much, there are a lot of people out there who don’t realise how much they are jabbering.

Who talks too much?

Social psychologist Gemma Cribb says the people who are most likely to be over-talkers are:

• People with Asperger’s-type disorders.

• People who are anxious and babble out of nerves, trying to please the person they are talking to.

• Narcissists, who think that what they have to say is very important and entertaining.

Clinical psychologist Bob Montgomery says some people grow up with the “bad habit” of talking without listening.

This is a problem, because communication problems often underlie many other problems people have in their relationships.

“One of the most powerful communication skills you’ll learn is good listening,” Dr Montgomery said. “Communication is meant to promote understanding. You can’t wind up understanding each other if you’re not actively listening.”

And if you are trying to convince somebody of something, listening is a much more powerful tool than talking.

“Listening actually strengthens your influence. Showing you’re willing to hear the other person means you’ve then bought the right to offer your opinion or make your request,” Dr Montgomery.

Oh god. Please. Stop. Talking. Picture: Warner Bros Source:Supplied

Stop butting in

Another bad habit people develop is cutting people off.

“People often butt in if they’re frightened something’s going to be said that they don’t like or don’t agree with,” he said.

But it’s much better to validate what the other person is saying before you disagree with them.

“Show them ‘I can see that’s how you feel’. It doesn’t mean you agree but it’s how you show respect. Then you’ve bought the right to be heard because you’ve shown you understand where they are coming from.”

Communication and leadership coach Margot Halbert says people often butt in when other people are trying to explain their problems.

“As soon as we share a challenge people immediately want to go in to tell advice,” Ms Halbert, from Positive Persuasion, said.

“But rather than just giving someone advice, ask three questions about their challenge.”

This makes people feel as though you really understand their problem, and all you have done is ask questions.

Why people talk too much

Ms Halbert says people who talk too much lack personal awareness.

“They haven’t emotionally evolved to understand about rapport and being interesting. And people do all sorts of things when nervous,” she said.

If you’re still not convinced that listening and asking questions will make you a better communicator, have a think about the people you are jabbering at.

“All they do is get focused on how they hell can I escape this person. Or they quickly look around for other people they can drag in so they can get out,” Ms Halbert said.

“That’s why people have got to look for visual clues. If people are disengaged, they start looking around, looking at their watch, looking at the floor. If they were really engaged and interested they’d be looking at you.”

How to Quell a Dominating Personality in Your Group

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Let’s say your group is bonding well; everyone is engaging in conversation, and everyone seems to be enjoying the meetings. But then a new person joins the group, and suddenly they’re dominating every conversation. No matter what topic is discussed or what question is asked, they eagerly share their opinions for 5, 10 or 20 minutes—and no one else can get a word in edgewise. Even worse, sometimes—when someone else starts to answer a question—the dominating person jumps in and talks louder until the first person gives up.

At first it’s not a big deal and you think to yourself, “Well, maybe this person just needs to talk.” But soon it becomes a real problem. After several meetings, some people in the group are clearly getting annoyed. Finally, one by one, people just stop coming to the group.

What has happened is the talker has sucked all the oxygen out of the group. They have crowded everyone else out.

Initial Response

Usually there are understandable reasons for the talker’s behavior. But no matter why they do this, their actions are harmful to the group. So what do you do about it? Try the following, to start.

First, set the stage by announcing before each discussion that you want everyone to share. To help that, you want each person in the group to limit their sharing to no more than a minute. When the dominant personality starts talking, give them their minute and then wait until they catch a breath, or maybe just slow down just a little bit. Then catch their eye, hold up your hand, and say, “That’s a really good point.” Immediately look at another person in the group, direct your hand toward them, and ask, “What do you think?”

Keep “batting the ball around” in this way to get others involved in the conversation.

If the dominant person interrupts someone who had started to share, hold up a hand and say loudly, “Sorry, X, so-and-so was talking first.” Then turn to the person who was interrupted, direct your hand toward them and say, “Now, what were you saying?”

After the meeting, chat privately with the dominating person and speak to them in a loving way: “I know you have good ideas and you really want to share them, but we need to get everyone involved in the discussion. Please help me get other people talking and sharing in the group by letting at least five people share before you do. That should encourage others to share.”

If they are interrupting others, add, “You may not have known you were doing this, but you interrupted several people who were talking before you.”

Usually, the talker will recognize these traits in themselves, and your conversation will help them think about when they’re talking too much or interrupting others. It will also get them thinking about how to involve others.

Another technique is to use your body to direct the discussion. Try standing during the discussion time and facing each person who shares. If you’re facing away from the dominating person, they can’t get your attention. And if they start talking when you’re facing away from them, don’t turn to face them. When it is their turn to share, face them for a reasonable time and then turn to face someone else in the group, asking, “What do you think?”

Going Deeper

If the dominating behavior continues after you’ve tried these ideas and talked to the dominating person privately, continue to divert the conversation from them during that meeting and have another private conversation with them, reminding them of your earlier conversation and again asking for their help and cooperation.

At an extreme, if things just don’t get better, use a talking stick. It’s a simple device in which the meeting facilitator—you or whoever is running the meeting—places a feather or a straw or a similar object on the floor in the middle of the group. Then you say, “In order for everyone to get a turn sharing, we’re using a talking stick tonight. When you would like to share, please get my attention. When I give the talking stick to someone, it’s their turn to share until I get the stick back. That means no interrupting or talking over the person.”

This way you are in control of who has “permission” to speak. No stick, no talk.

If your group has small-group guidelines or a covenant, consider adding something like this: “Being respectful towards each other by not interrupting and by giving everyone equal opportunity to share.”

If you don’t have group guidelines or a covenant, this is a perfect reason to write one. Then, all you need to do when someone crosses the boundaries that the group has agreed to is to remind them privately of the agreement and ask for their help in keeping it.

—Ron Wilbur is Pastor of Small-Group Life at Saddleback Church.

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While that narcissistic friend, relative or romantic partner may come across as a “know-it-all,” people with an overly inflated self-image often have relatively low social intelligence skills. If you spend time with a friend who talks primarily about himself and you don’t want to end the relationship, dealing with the situation is a must. While you shouldn’t expect your interactions to change immediately, adopting a few sensible strategies can help you better handle the relationship.

Get Real

If you expect that your friend or partner will suddenly stop talking about himself simply because you point out his behavior, think again. When dealing with a narcissist keep your expectations for his actions realistic, suggests psychiatrist Judith Orloff writing for Psychology Today. You already know that he talks about himself way too much. Your friend or family member may not have the emotional self-recognition to understand that he is negatively impacting you and your relationship. Instead of believing that you’ll turn him around, be realistic and either accept his ramblings or limit the time that the two of you spend together.

Don’t Be a Critic

When someone is a true narcissist, she’ll respond better to suggestions that benefit her, according to Dr. Orloff in, “How to Deal With a Narcissist.” Telling your friend or partner what you need — in this case, for her to stop talking about herself — isn’t likely to do the trick. A 2013 study published in the journal, “Personality and Individual Differences,” found that narcissistic people had poor perspective skills. Instead of expecting her to see your point, note one of her positive attributes and turn the conversation by saying something like, “you always know so much about world politics. Let’s talk about the situation overseas.”

Spotlight Seeker

Even though your boasting friend may seem like he’s full of himself, narcissistic people tend to crave approval from others, report Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs of the Case Western Reserve University’s department of psychology. In “Narcisssim as Addiction to Esteem,” Baumeister and Vohs note that narcissists typically have strong needs for others to regard them highly. Your friend or partner’s constant chatter about himself may come from a need for acceptance. While you might not change his behaviors, you can handle your friend’s attention-seeking actions by listening to him and letting him know you appreciate him.

Off Topic

Ignoring your friend when she goes on and on about herself isn’t likely to work. If she won’t stop her self-centered behavior, responding in a cold manner may actually make her amp up her narcissistic talk in an effort to force you to listen. If you aren’t ready, willing or simply can’t walk away from the friendship or relationship, try changing the subject. For example, your roommate constantly gabs about her fabulous sense of style. As she’s talking about her fashionable new outfit, slickly change the subject to your favorite celebrity who wore a similar dress.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in MeetingsAt first, they may appear as perfect friends — open, outgoing, willing to share. Because they are so open to conversation, it’s easy to get to know them and become close to them.

Their willingness to discuss their own life suggests that, hopefully, you too will have someone to listen to you and support you.

Besides, they could have many other positive qualities, such as being funny and enthusiastic.

Unfortunately, things don’t go as expected, and soon enough you realize you befriended someone who is isn’t particularly sensitive to your needs.

What makes you the way you are? Take THIS TEST to discover your personality type.

Some call this type of people narcissists; we call them people who talk too much about themselves or “human radios”.

The reason for that is that while narcissism became a popular term, it may mean different things to different people.

It could be someone with a narcissistic personality disorder or merely someone with narcissistic tendencies.

Your “radio” friends may or may not be narcissists. In fact, they could have very low self-esteem and still talk too much about themselves and their problems. Narcissism and excessive talking are not necessarily related.

The type of people we are talking about are only interested in a conversation if it’s about them or something related to them.

They are utterly uninterested in the listener, and even if they ask any questions, it comes across as superficial politeness, especially that they rarely wait for the answer or take time to listen until the end.

If a conversation drifts toward a different topic, they will find a way to interrupt you and redirect the limelight onto themselves again.

There are three ways to take the stage:

  • Keep talking about yourself so that others don’t have a chance to say a word.
  • Constantly interrupt others and refocus the conversation on what you want to talk about.
  • Avoid any supporting statements when somebody else is talking so that they naturally stop.

Supporting statements are listener’s reactions, such as “Oh really”, “Oh, I see”, “I feel your pain”, “What are you going to do now?”

These statements are an essential part of being a good listener and a good friend. They are the way to show that you are present, available, and focused on the person you are with.

However, if the listener completely avoids these, anyone who has even a little amount of social sensitivity will stop talking because it feels awkward.

People who talk too much often avoid showing any reactions or asking any questions so that you stop talking sooner, and they can take the stage again.

There are many reasons why people may behave this way, and narcissism is only one of them. Other possible causes include:

  • need for attention,
  • need to validate their feelings,
  • insecurity,
  • desire to fill the silence,
  • immaturity,
  • lack of social sensitivity,
  • lack of social skills.

At times they may realize something’s wrong, but talking feels so good, they simply can’t stop.

Attempting to explain to them their mistake may or may not end your friendship but definitely won’t get them interested in listening more.

Being a friend of someone who talks excessively about themselves, you have two choices:

  • Walk away, and that means to completely give up on your friend and their opinion of you.
  • Continue listening.

Because you really can’t change them and the only control you have is over yourself, it’s good to ask yourself why you are in this relationship, to begin with.

Are you too lonely? Are you in a situation where it’s hard to make new friends? Are you passive about meeting new people and afraid to stay alone if you don’t listen?

These are good questions to ponder as they reveal important truths about you.

Ideally, friends should allow others to talk about half of the time.

Being genuinely interested in your friends and being supportive is expressed by asking questions and reacting to what they have to say.

It is also about being forgiving when your friend gets carried away and talks a little too much at times.

To ensure that both parties enjoy the conversation, it’s wise to choose topics of common interest, which usually excludes anything related to your daily affairs or anything personal.

At the beginning of the relationship, when you don’t know much about your new friend, it’s good to ask open-ended questions, such as “Do you like sports?”, “Do you like to read?”, “What type of books do you like?” and so on.

This type of question helps find common ground and figure out topics for future conversations.

If your friend is not only talking too much but is also being very negative, you might be interested in this.

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Have you ever sat down for lunch with a friend who talks non-stop—without giving you the slightest chance to get a word in edgewise? You begin to feel like you turned on a TV set, helplessly trying to interact with a very boring re-run.

Your friend tells you every trite detail of what has transpired since the last time you were together and then, without skipping a breath, reaches further back into the past and tells you stories you’ve already heard. Your friend’s speech is pressured and feels unrelenting.

If you like the person well-enough to want to remain friends, here are five tips for making that lunch easier to digest:

1) Try interrupting periodically

Don’t feel shy about changing the topic, or directly asking your friend to slow down or stop for a minute so you can have a turn to speak. Given the situation, it isn’t rude or impolite. If you’re lucky, you may startle the heck out of your friend, disrupt a pattern of one-way conversation, and seize an opportunity to speak and be heard.

2) Be cautious about inadvertently encouraging more of the same

When you’re totally bored, don’t feign interest by asking questions or giving the yakker other types of positive feedback, perhaps in the form of head nods or ah-ha’s. If you look disinterested or glance at your watch or smart phone, the talker may slow down.

3) Don’t label or call the person names

Yes, your friend is probably self-centered, narcissistic and insecure—but if you mention this, the person will only become more defensive, and it may exacerbate the problem rather than solve it. Remember, you’re at lunch, not at therapy or a coaching session and you have the right to expect reciprocity.

4) Identify “not being able to get a word in” as a problem for YOU

If you are truly a good friend, tell your friend bluntly—but kindly—that you are feeling frustrated when you get together. Tell your friend that you need and want more give and take in your conversations. If you’re lucky and your friendship is solid, the person may have a glimmer of self-insight.

5) If you can’t change your friend’s behavior, you may have to change your relationship

If your friend continues to drone on each time you get together, which is the most likely outcome, you either have to accept the person as-is—or downgrade the relationship: The incessant talker may actually be more tolerable and entertaining in small doses; or else, the intensity of the person’s chatter might be diluted proportionately if you get together within a group of common friends instead of in a twosome.

If you do decide to call it quits, you’ll recoup time to nurture other friendships with people with whom you can have more meaningful and balanced conversations. One more tip: Don’t worry about bailing out. The friend who talks too much will probably find someone else to listen. When someone talks incessantly, there’s always a new audience within easy reach—friends, family, or colleagues.

What successful strategies have you used to handle an incessant talker?

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Handling questions is a normal part of the work day, but dealing with constant questions from an employee makes it difficult for you to complete your own work. If you have an employee who asks too many questions, determine why the employee can’t find answers and solutions independently. Solve the problem by developing a plan to help him learn how to get the information he needs.

Find the Cause

Ask the employee to meet with you to discuss the issue. Mention that you notice that he has many questions, and you would like to find a way to help him be more self-sufficient. Don’t be overly critical about the amount of questions he asks — you don’t want to be so harsh that he feels uncomfortable asking important questions in the future. Find out why he has so many questions. He may not feel comfortable volunteering this information, particularly if he feels it would make him look inadequate, so it might take some time to determine the source of the problem. Possible causes could include insufficient training or skills to perform the work, unclear instructions or insecurity.

Create a Plan

Create a plan to address the problem. If your employee doesn’t fully understand a procedure or software program, provide additional training to help him become proficient. Improve the amount and quality of instructions you give at the beginning of a task or project if the employee doesn’t understand what you expect. Employees who are insecure can also benefit from being paired with another employee who can provide assistance, support and feedback. In some cases, an employee asks many questions because he doesn’t have any authority to make decisions. If you allow him to make some decisions on his own, you may reduce the amount of questions.

Schedule Question Time

It may be difficult for your employee to stop asking questions when he’s become accustomed to coming to you for everything. Set aside a few times during the week when your employee can ask questions. Keep the meetings short. Allow no more than 10 or 15 minutes and ask him to focus on the most important questions. Suggest that he keep a list of questions and only contact you outside of the meeting time if the issue is critical. Define exactly what types of issues you consider critical.

Focus on Solutions

Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your employee is instruction in problem-solving. Problem-solving doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and if your employee worked in a previous position that didn’t allow him to make decisions, he might not have learned this valuable skill. The Managing Employees website suggests that you ask your employee to provide a possible solution for every question he asks you. If the solution isn’t appropriate, the site notes that it’s important to thank the employee for taking a risk and providing a potential solution.

Ever dread getting stuck in a meeting with someone because they don’t know how to shut up?

Bluntly, it’s the bane of most groups that are trying to operate effectively–the sandbagging blowhard who either has to be the smartest person in the room, or who, more prosaically, just loves the sound of their own voice.

With people like this, my personal preference is to simply confront them with what they’re doing and ask them to stop it. We’re all adults, after all, and managing our weaknesses is a reasonable expectation of any business leader.

Sometimes, however, that’s not possible.

If you’re in that position, here are five ways to change the behaviors of an overly-loquacious team member:

1. Don’t let them get started. The easiest way to prevent a blowhard from sandbagging a meeting is, of course, not to let them get started in the first place.

You won’t be able to exclude them from the discussion altogether (nor do you want to–we’re trying to effect behavioral change here, not muzzle the individual concerned), but you can defer the point at which they pull the meeting off-track.

Call on others to begin with; use an “I’ll-get-to-you-in-a-minute” raised finger when they first try to get into the discussion; be overt: “Janet, I know you want to get in here, but we don’t have time right now.”

Remember, the goal isn’t to stifle. It’s to corral their disruptive behavior with firm boundaries, and to send clear signals regarding the behavioral change you want to see.

2. Once they start, don’t interrupt. Long-winded executives can’t be kept quiet for long. After all, talking is important to their self-esteem. So at some point the dam is gonna burst, no matter how hard you’ve been holding it back.

Once they’ve started, however, the key point is not to interrupt. At all. And so far as you can, don’t permit anyone else to interrupt them either. The reason for this is two-fold:

First, we almost always interrupt to argue against some irritating, irrelevant, esoteric point made by our blustering colleague that isn’t central to the core discussion– and bingo, the meeting is derailed.

Second, interrupting blowhards only validates (to them) their lengthy diatribes. “Hey, I’m the only one around here generating valuable discussion!” You have to let them blow themselves out by waiting, however long it takes, until they literally run out of things to say. Only by letting them stumble to a halting close (over and over agin) will they become self-aware of what they’re doing.

3. Listen with neutral reaction. Painful as it is, the single most important way to effect behavioral change in a blowhard is to maintain a completely neutral response while they’re talking. No rolling your eyes, no folding arms, glancing at your watch or multi-tasking. But no encouragement either–don’t nod, smile, or cock your head to show interest.

Instead, maintain a level, neutral expression, and hold eye (or near-eye) contact during the whole time they’re talking. Why? Because giving any emotive feedback at all prolongs their endless monologue by validating and feeding the activity. You’re engaging with the blowhard (positively or negatively), and that’s all they need as encouragement to continue.

Maintaining an expressionless, neutral expression drains engagement without confrontation, and like sucking oxygen from a fire it’ll extinguish the droning monologue much quicker.

4. Respond only to the core issue. Once they’ve run out of steam, it’s essential not to respond to everything your can’t-stop-talking colleague has said. No matter how contentious, annoying or downright wrong much of what they said may be, restrict yourself only to any comments that were (a) relevant to them topic under discussion, and (b) helpful in moving the discussion forward.

If there were no such comments (not uncommon experience with blowhards), then simply thank them for their comments and move on–again, with a neutral emotive expression.

5. Respond inversely to their contributions. As a simple rule, the longer your colleague talks, the shorter your response should be. Conversely, when they do manage to control themselves and contribute in a concise manner, you can (and should) respond in more depth, both emotionally and verbally.

A 10-minute ramble should receive little more than an emotionally neutral ‘thank-you’, while a short (for them) 2-minute contribution should be rewarded with a more expansive, emotionally positive response.

6. Don’t let them summarize. Most discussions end with a brief “round-the-table” summary. This isn’t a good point at which to open the floor again to your agenda-sandbagging colleague. Instead, pass them by, pointing out that the group has already heard their views in depth (almost certainly an understatement).

Try these simple steps next time you have a colleague who doesn’t know how to stop talking. A few iterations, and I guarantee you’ll begin to see some helpful behavior modification.

Download a free chapter from the author’s book, “The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success” which provides a comprehensive model for developing yourself or others as an exceptional, world class leader.

How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in MeetingsWe’ve all had that co-worker who just shares too much information (the kids call it “TMI”).

You know what I’m talking about: That person who gives you the play-by-play of her divorce proceedings. The one who’s happy to share all the gory details of her recent bout with stomach flu. The one who wants everyone to know all the details of what she’s working on at any given moment of the day.

I’ve had several people ask questions during my free coaching call about how to handle this particular workplace nuisance. So today, I thought I’d share some tips for managing the TMI co-worker.

1. Stop encouraging the behavior.

Be careful that you’re not the one starting or perpetuating the conversation. Don’t ask questions; don’t check in to see how she’s doing after all that drama with her boyfriend; don’t lean forward and say, “Oh. how interesting. “

I know you want to be supportive, but the more you pretend to care, the more your co-worker will share.

When you find yourself in the middle of a TMI conversation, disengage. Don’t offer sympathy. Don’t show curiosity. Don’t even make eye contact if you can help it. Your job is to demonstrate total lack of interest. Watch both your body language and your words.

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When this person isn’t getting anything out of you, it will become much less satisfying to talk your ear off.

If all else fails, offer some kind of generic excuse:

  • “I’m just really busy right now so I can’t talk.”
  • “I’m on a deadline and I really need to concentrate. Let’s talk later.”
  • “I really need to concentrate so can this wait?”

2. Define the consequences.

For some people, disengagement and polite excuses are enough. We’ve all known that person who is so self-absorbed she doesn’t even notice when no one is listening, and she merrily carries on even when you’ve asked for privacy. So there may come a time when you have to address the situation in no uncertain terms. Yes, that means you’ll have to USE YOUR WORDS.

Before you discuss the issue with your co-worker, however, start by defining why this is a problem. Get clear on how it’s impacting you, your work and your relationship with the person.

Do you feel the constant over-sharing of information is wasting your time and pulling your attention away from where it rightly belongs in the workplace? Or is the conversation actually making you uncomfortable? Are you hearing things that damage your ability to work productively with this person?

Don’t just focus on the fact that this behavior is annoying. Get to the meat of the issue and the real harm it’s causing.

3. Articulate the situation & the preferred behavior.

Once you’re clear on what’s happening for you, it’s time to articulate your feelings and ask for what you want. Remember: This is the workplace. You have a right to a comfortable environment. But setting appropriate limits for your interactions with others is your responsibility. If this person is creating problems, you need to request a change in behavior. The more specific you can be, the more likely the other person will hear you and respond appropriately.

Try following this structure in your request:

  • When you…
  • I feel…
  • And the impact on my work is…
  • So in the future…

Here it is in action:

When you share all the details of your son’s drug problem, I can tell how much it upsets you and that upsets me. I feel really distracted. I want to be supportive but I’m not really equipped to guide you through this. And even if I was, this isn’t the place for talking about it. The impact on my work is that I can’t focus, and I don’t get as much done as I need to. I end up stressed and working late. So in the future, let’s keep our work conversations focused on work. If you’d like to talk about your personal life outside of work, maybe we can grab a drink sometime next week.

Here’s another, more generic, example:

When you share personal information with me, I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want it to impact our work or our relationship, so let’s keep the conversation professional while here in the office, okay?

In reality, you’re helping this person by setting some limits for them. You’re not a therapist. You’re not paid to be their personal sounding board. They might feel better by talking about whatever is going on, but they aren’t really accomplishing anything by doing so. In the workplace, their time, energy and attention (just like yours) belong on work.

Even if the over-sharing is work-related, setting limits is still essential. Let’s face it: You have limited resources (again—time, energy and attention), and if those things are being inappropriately absorbed by this person and the information he or she is sharing, your job could be on the line.

Chrissy Scivicque is an award-winning freelance writer and professional speaker. As a certified nutritionist and experienced career coach, she combined her passion for…

Chrissy Scivicque is an award-winning freelance writer and professional speaker. As a certified nutritionist and experienced career coach, she combined her passion for food and helping people to create EatYourCareer, a website dedicated to exploring what it takes to create a nourishing professional life. Stop by and pick up a free copy of her mini-workbook called “How Nourishing is YOUR Career?”

Ever dread getting stuck in a meeting with someone because they don’t know how to shut up?

Bluntly, it’s the bane of most groups that are trying to operate effectively–the sandbagging blowhard who either has to be the smartest person in the room, or who, more prosaically, just loves the sound of their own voice.

With people like this, my personal preference is to simply confront them with what they’re doing and ask them to stop it. We’re all adults, after all, and managing our weaknesses is a reasonable expectation of any business leader.

Sometimes, however, that’s not possible.

If you’re in that position, here are five ways to change the behaviors of an overly-loquacious team member:

1. Don’t let them get started. The easiest way to prevent a blowhard from sandbagging a meeting is, of course, not to let them get started in the first place.

You won’t be able to exclude them from the discussion altogether (nor do you want to–we’re trying to effect behavioral change here, not muzzle the individual concerned), but you can defer the point at which they pull the meeting off-track.

Call on others to begin with; use an “I’ll-get-to-you-in-a-minute” raised finger when they first try to get into the discussion; be overt: “Janet, I know you want to get in here, but we don’t have time right now.”

Remember, the goal isn’t to stifle. It’s to corral their disruptive behavior with firm boundaries, and to send clear signals regarding the behavioral change you want to see.

2. Once they start, don’t interrupt. Long-winded executives can’t be kept quiet for long. After all, talking is important to their self-esteem. So at some point the dam is gonna burst, no matter how hard you’ve been holding it back.

Once they’ve started, however, the key point is not to interrupt. At all. And so far as you can, don’t permit anyone else to interrupt them either. The reason for this is two-fold:

First, we almost always interrupt to argue against some irritating, irrelevant, esoteric point made by our blustering colleague that isn’t central to the core discussion– and bingo, the meeting is derailed.

Second, interrupting blowhards only validates (to them) their lengthy diatribes. “Hey, I’m the only one around here generating valuable discussion!” You have to let them blow themselves out by waiting, however long it takes, until they literally run out of things to say. Only by letting them stumble to a halting close (over and over agin) will they become self-aware of what they’re doing.

3. Listen with neutral reaction. Painful as it is, the single most important way to effect behavioral change in a blowhard is to maintain a completely neutral response while they’re talking. No rolling your eyes, no folding arms, glancing at your watch or multi-tasking. But no encouragement either–don’t nod, smile, or cock your head to show interest.

Instead, maintain a level, neutral expression, and hold eye (or near-eye) contact during the whole time they’re talking. Why? Because giving any emotive feedback at all prolongs their endless monologue by validating and feeding the activity. You’re engaging with the blowhard (positively or negatively), and that’s all they need as encouragement to continue.

Maintaining an expressionless, neutral expression drains engagement without confrontation, and like sucking oxygen from a fire it’ll extinguish the droning monologue much quicker.

4. Respond only to the core issue. Once they’ve run out of steam, it’s essential not to respond to everything your can’t-stop-talking colleague has said. No matter how contentious, annoying or downright wrong much of what they said may be, restrict yourself only to any comments that were (a) relevant to them topic under discussion, and (b) helpful in moving the discussion forward.

If there were no such comments (not uncommon experience with blowhards), then simply thank them for their comments and move on–again, with a neutral emotive expression.

5. Respond inversely to their contributions. As a simple rule, the longer your colleague talks, the shorter your response should be. Conversely, when they do manage to control themselves and contribute in a concise manner, you can (and should) respond in more depth, both emotionally and verbally.

A 10-minute ramble should receive little more than an emotionally neutral ‘thank-you’, while a short (for them) 2-minute contribution should be rewarded with a more expansive, emotionally positive response.

6. Don’t let them summarize. Most discussions end with a brief “round-the-table” summary. This isn’t a good point at which to open the floor again to your agenda-sandbagging colleague. Instead, pass them by, pointing out that the group has already heard their views in depth (almost certainly an understatement).

Try these simple steps next time you have a colleague who doesn’t know how to stop talking. A few iterations, and I guarantee you’ll begin to see some helpful behavior modification.

Download a free chapter from the author’s book, “The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success” which provides a comprehensive model for developing yourself or others as an exceptional, world class leader.