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Author Topic: Getting a word in  (Read 4870 times)

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Getting a word in
« on: December 18, 2012, 04:13:50 AM »
I'm after some advice, and almost sure this would have come up here before.  My current boss is a talker, I mean she talks and talks and talks and doesn't obviously pause for breath.  This is so frustrating, she is like a train that just won't stop.  I have tried waiting, but she talks so much and changes tangents throughout so that what I originally wanted to say doesn't seem as relevant by the time I can get a word in.

She does this to everyone, not just me and it doesn't matter what forum it is, either an informal discussion or a meeting with several people.  Many others have also commented on this.  Mostly people (myself included) have to resort to being rude and interrupting to be able to say anything.  Mind you, this doesn't always work, often she just keeps talking.  Another strategy that someone else uses is to set a meeting reminder so their phone bleeps when they need to get away - often times getting away can be a problem.

I have a personal friend who is much the same, actually a bit worse, and I would imagine the 'treatments' would be different.  My other friend now lives very far away so we no longer have discussions but I remember once another friend of hers laid down some rules with her that were basically that she could speak for 10 minutes and then the friend would have her turn.  She was a little put out about it but was ok with it.  I wonder whether the friend got the suggestion from somewhere like EH.  Anyway this type of solution won't help in my situation.

So, I'm interested so hear from others how this could be managed without having to resort to be being rude in order to be able to speak.



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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2012, 04:21:20 AM »
I feel your pain. Personally I've said "I'm very sorry, I must get on. Can we discuss this at lunchtime?" That doesn't always work. I'm interested in others' opinions on this one!
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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2012, 12:52:08 PM »
Have you tried the gesture where you are almost putting your hand up (like when you were in school), but it comes off as talking with ones hands coupled with a change in facial expression and a deep breathe as if you are about to say something? Some talkers have learned these cues and will almost call on you, as it appears that you have something to say.

What is your relationship with this boss? If its positive, can you just express the problem? She probably knows that shes a heavy talker and bringing the problem forward may allow her to be more aware of when others may want to add something and/or to pause for an answer.

Otherwise, I would really try to push her towards emails. She can write lengthy emails, but at least you can review and ensure that you are saying everything that needs to be said.


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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2012, 01:07:12 PM »
Could you try something like "Boss, hold on, I need to make sure I'm following you" then repeat what you think she was trying to tell you?  "Okay, we need to call Feeblemeister and get the amount of the debt in pasta not in dollars.  Is that right?"


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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2012, 02:06:24 PM »
I know a few talkers, and in my experience they are used to being interrupted and don't really mind it at all, they expect it.


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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2012, 04:56:32 PM »
I know a few talkers, and in my experience they are used to being interrupted and don't really mind it at all, they expect it.

I was just going to say this. Especially if she often interrupts others to get started on her monologues. I don't think it would be retaliatory rudeness in this case, it could just be following her own communication habits. With some people you have to be more forceful about getting a word in, and they don't find that rude.


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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2012, 03:31:00 AM »
Great suggestions everyone, thanks!

Yes funnily enough DaDancingPsych, just this week when I wanted to say something I half raised my hand (sort of pointing finger like I'd just thought of something) and had an obviously questioning look on my face, that got the attention and was able say what I wanted.  Afterwards I thought 'did I really just raise my hand to speak?' wondering how that came across to the group, as it's not like I need permission to speak so hoped it didn't appear as though I was seeking that.  I don't think it came across like that though and I'm glad to have that as an acceptable solution.

I also like the comments that people like that probably expect to be interrupted and that it's not rude to communicate with them in their style.


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Re: Getting a word in
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2012, 02:45:06 PM »
DF is a HUGE talker and does this all the time no matter who's talking.  When it's him and me, I've learned various tactics, but they might not be polite here so I wouldn't suggest them (they're effective though abrupt at times).  When he does this to other people, I've learned to redirect the conversation to whatever the person was discussing (because I've found that most people have either been too polite or too timid to get the conversation back on topic).  I'm not saying that *I* determine the conversation flow, though.  I mean conversations where, for example, someone is in the middle of telling a story, and DF interrupts then goes off on a tangent then another tangent then another tangent until the original story is lost.  He's done this a ton of times.  I also will just interrupt him when I can see that a) the other party (or parties) is trying to exit or b) when he shows no sign of letting up (apparent when he starts up a new topic).  I'll just step in and say, "We need to get going" or, if I've this level of comfort with the other party, I'll step forward, hug the person and say goodbye.  Otherwise, DF will NEVER.STOP.TALKING.  He said when he was four years old, his great uncle turned to his mother and said, "He NEVER.STOPS.TALKING" (DF gets it from his mother, I'm told, so I don't know if she felt he's an excessive talker).

I'll admit, though, that I do get a bit of evil glee when we encounter another excessive talker and interrupter because I figure they can just wear each other out and leave the rest of us out of it.  When someone engages DF or encourages him to keep talking and I can see where the conversation length is headed, I'll sometimes wander off and do something else.  I figure the other person could save him/herself if he/she wants to encourage DF to keep talking.

I did once do the putting up the hand thing to DF when we were talking to someone once.  Actually, I kept trying to ask the person a question, and DF thought he (DF) was just so funny by continually interrupting me to make some lame joke.  Finally after DF did this for the third time in just a few minutes, I physically turned my body towards DF, put up my hand and said, "We need to get out of here soon in order to make it to such-and-such on time, and I still need to ask Person a question so you need to stop talking so I could get my question in."  THAT is what finally worked.