Author Topic: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?  (Read 3105 times)

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KimodoDragon

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Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« on: September 30, 2013, 02:37:49 PM »
Is there any way to politely ďfinishĒ a dialogue with a coworker?

There are several of us in one area that work closely.  One lady named Helen is a kind person, always ready to help out, but really doesnít have a lot of work to do right now.  She busies herself with making sure the copier has paper, ordering supplies, etc.

However, there is one thing she does that can be irritating sometimes.  Here is an example that just happened.  I went to make copies and the machine was turned off, which is odd, and no one knew why.  Helen came back from lunch and I asked her about it since she is the contact person for the copier.

Me: Helen, is the copier down?  Itís turned off and I wasnít sure if service should be called, there was no note
Helen: Oh yes, I turned it off
Me: Oh okay, I will use the one down the hall, thanks
(10 seconds pass)
Helen: Yes, itís giving me some error message, so. . .
Me:  Okay, no worries
(10 seconds pass)
Helen: I didnít know what happened so I just turned it off
Me:  Okay
(10 seconds pass)
Helen: I usually call right away, so . . .
Me:  (silence)
(10 seconds pass)
Helen:  Iíll them shortly
Me:  Okay, thanks
(10 seconds pass)
Helen: Yeah, because this was happening earlier, so . . .
Meredith:  WE GET IT, THE MACHINE IS DOWN!  GEEZ!

I admit, Meredith said what I was thinking, but I would never say that to someone.  Helen does this to the point of exhaustion.  And sometimes she will walk to your desk and keep the conversation going.  Yes, it can be annoying.  Is there a way to cut her short that is not rude?

Thanks.

mspallaton

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2013, 02:43:49 PM »
There are a couple folks at the place I work that do that as well.  I've found that being clear, direct and calm is the best thing that works for me.

At about the second or third statement, I would stop what I'm doing and look her in the eye to respond.  Then I would say something like: "Thank you, Helen.  I appreciate the information.  I have quite a bit of work to do so I need to get back to it now."

If she persists, I would wait until she pauses and then say: "Helen.  I really have a lot I need to get done today and I'm on a tight deadline.  Is there something else you needed from me?" and smile.

It is not the most subtle approach, but it is (IMO) polite and clear.  She may need to gain some understanding of how she is coming across to people to improve her awareness and getting yelled at will just turn her off from future feedback -- so calm, but clear is my recommendation.

cwm

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 02:44:10 PM »
I'd have cut it off a lot sooner.

Me: Helen, is the copier down? It's turned off and I wasn't sure if service should be called, there was no note.
Helen: Oh, yes, I turned it off.
Me: I'll use the one down the hall. Thanks. Let me know when this is fixed. Talk to you later.

Give her a verbal cue that it's the end of the conversation. Walk away. If she follows you to your desk, look at her and say "Is there something else I can help you with? No? Oh, well I've got to get back to the Widget report now, so thanks again."

Cherry91

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 03:34:33 PM »
I often use "Gotcha" if someone is over-explaining something, because I feel it's simultaneously positive and phonetically more punchy than "Thank you/thanks", so more likely to get the attention of someone working on autopilot. Which I wouldn't dismiss as an option - half the time ramblers don't even realise they're still going. But as I'm still fairly baby faced, that's probably why I can get away with this, and I certainly wouldn't be quite so familiar with my high up superiors!

Pen^2

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 03:53:08 PM »
If I've said something like, "Okay, thanks for letting me know, I'll deal with it when I have a spare moment," and the other person keeps at it, I'll say, "I already told you, I'll deal with it shortly." The next reply will just get, "I already answered that." Anything more will get a brief confused look and silence, and after that, I'll ignore them completely.

I know people who do this to try to suggest something without actually saying it. If they want to play games, that's fine, but when the other person clearly isn't interested in playing, it's just silly. It's like PA comments: It's not rude to not play along and just take them at face value.

I like cwm's idea of giving her a verbal cue that the conversation is over: "Okay, thanks. See you later!" That or just saying politely but truthfully, "I'm trying to concentrate on this bit of work, sorry, so we'll have to talk another time."

artk2002

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 04:14:37 PM »
I'm very confused. Why did you wait that 10 seconds after telling Helen that you were going to use the copier down the hall. Did you need her permission to leave for some reason? What were you waiting for? To me, the dialog was finished when you said you were using the one down the hall. If I were Helen, I'd be the one wondering how to end this -- it seems like you were hanging on, waiting for something more. That's why she kept filling things in with awkward statements of the obvious.

This shows up here sometimes. People seem to feel that they need their conversational partner's permission to leave the conversation. You don't.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

amylouky

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 04:41:10 PM »
I'm very confused. Why did you wait that 10 seconds after telling Helen that you were going to use the copier down the hall. Did you need her permission to leave for some reason? What were you waiting for? To me, the dialog was finished when you said you were using the one down the hall. If I were Helen, I'd be the one wondering how to end this -- it seems like you were hanging on, waiting for something more. That's why she kept filling things in with awkward statements of the obvious.

This shows up here sometimes. People seem to feel that they need their conversational partner's permission to leave the conversation. You don't.

I assumed that OP was at her desk, which is in close proximity to Helen's desk, so there was no leaving necessary.

bopper

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2013, 09:13:47 AM »
If you are standing and can walk away, then like someone said:
Me: I'll use the one down the hall. Thanks. Let me know when this is fixed. Talk to you later. <walk away>
If she walks to your desk then say "Can I help you with something?"
and if she talks more about it then say "No problem, just let me know when it is working. Excuse me, I have to finish the TPS report now."


KimodoDragon

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 09:15:28 AM »
I'm very confused. Why did you wait that 10 seconds after telling Helen that you were going to use the copier down the hall. Did you need her permission to leave for some reason? What were you waiting for? To me, the dialog was finished when you said you were using the one down the hall. If I were Helen, I'd be the one wondering how to end this -- it seems like you were hanging on, waiting for something more. That's why she kept filling things in with awkward statements of the obvious.

This shows up here sometimes. People seem to feel that they need their conversational partner's permission to leave the conversation. You don't.

Hi Art, we sit in close proximity to each other, no cube walls, no obstructions, clear sightlines to each other.  I gave a response and continued working.  She would wait a few seconds and then say something else.  So, no I wasn't hanging on.

bopper

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2013, 09:12:51 AM »
Another ideas:

When you need to ask her a question, be prepared to get up and "go to the bathroom" anyway.
Wait until you need to make a copy or use the restroom or get the mail or go see someone and then ask so you can physically end the dialogue.

Lady Snowdon

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 09:23:57 AM »
I think a lot of people don't know how to end a conversation, whether it's on the phone or in person.  Being on the phone quite a bit in my previous job, I started trying to find ways to deliberately end a conversation that I'd started.  Once I had all the information I needed, I would generally say something like, "Great!  Thanks for the information.  I'll let you know once I have an update, okay?  Bye!".  Could you possibly adapt something like that when talking to Helen?  "Thanks for letting me know Helen!  I'll just go use the other copier until it's done.  Gotta get back to those TPS reports now!".  I found that, for a lot of people, getting a cue to end the conversation is necessary, as other PP's have said. 


artk2002

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2013, 11:23:37 AM »
I'm very confused. Why did you wait that 10 seconds after telling Helen that you were going to use the copier down the hall. Did you need her permission to leave for some reason? What were you waiting for? To me, the dialog was finished when you said you were using the one down the hall. If I were Helen, I'd be the one wondering how to end this -- it seems like you were hanging on, waiting for something more. That's why she kept filling things in with awkward statements of the obvious.

This shows up here sometimes. People seem to feel that they need their conversational partner's permission to leave the conversation. You don't.

Hi Art, we sit in close proximity to each other, no cube walls, no obstructions, clear sightlines to each other.  I gave a response and continued working.  She would wait a few seconds and then say something else.  So, no I wasn't hanging on.

Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like she was feeling defensive.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

KimodoDragon

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 09:53:17 AM »
Okay, I had to do it!

A few minutes ago, Helen came to my desk asking if I had ordered any supplies lately.   I was typing an entry into my Executive's calendar and she just starts in.  I didnt turn around to address her face to face, I just said no, I hadn't ordered any, I am well-stocked at the moment. I continue typing and then she is standing there and does the wait thing and says, "yeah I know there are some things that need replacing in the supply closet, I'll order those  today".

I then turned around, looked at her and said, "Okay, welll I don't need anything.  Gotta finish this meeting invite."

She waited a few seconds and walked away.    Now she is slamming reams of paper on her desk.

I don't think I was rude.  Was I?


TootsNYC

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2013, 11:02:24 AM »
Quote
I didnt turn around to address her face to face,

This may have been rude.


Otherwise, I guess you were OK.

Also, I think you could, when she lingers, or starts the conversation again, say, "Helen, do you have all the info you need? [or, I have all the info I need.] Are we done with this conversation? I don't want to cut you off, but I need to concentrate without interruption."

It sounds like she has a high need to frequent interaction/contact with other people.

MrTango

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Re: Prolonged Dialogue - How To "Finish" It?
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2013, 11:43:48 AM »
Quote
I didnt turn around to address her face to face,

This may have been rude.


Otherwise, I guess you were OK.

Also, I think you could, when she lingers, or starts the conversation again, say, "Helen, do you have all the info you need? [or, I have all the info I need.] Are we done with this conversation? I don't want to cut you off, but I need to concentrate without interruption."

It sounds like she has a high need to frequent interaction/contact with other people.

For me, when someone interrupts me while I'm in the middle of a thought, I'll say "Hold on just a second" without turning away from whatever I'm doing.  Once I get to the end of a sentence or to a logical pausing point, I'll turn to them and acknowledge them.  Personally, I think that's better than letting them start whatever they are going to say before I'm ready to pay attention to them.