Author Topic: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?  (Read 1658 times)

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alwayschoclat

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Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« on: August 07, 2014, 01:59:19 AM »
Hello everyone,
I went to a professional networking event a couple of weeks ago. While everyone was mingling and snacks were being served, I joined a table that ended up with four other people at it.  Two of them had been working privately (as consultants) for many years, one was a university student, and the other woman worked full-time.  I had worked for a couple of years as a consultant but not being an enterpreneurial type, prefer a salaried position.

Shortly after introducing ourselves, the two who were working as consultants began to dominate the conversation and speak about their work in a way that sounded as though they were bragging of their success. For example, one individual talked about how much she could get for presenting at a conference, how much she was able to charge per hour, about a job she was doing where she was charging a lot of money for very easy work, etc. etc. She mentioned the tax advantages of being self-employed and at one point I commented, "when I did that work, I just took my accountant my stack of receipts and invoices, and let him sort it out." This just set her off afresh and she spent the next 10 minutes explaining why that was all wrong and why one should have a bookkeeper on a monthly basis and not an accountant, and so on. I was actually just commenting to be part of the conversation, as it was the first word I'd been able to get in edgewise in the 30 minutes I had been there, and certainly not asking for her advice although she clearly styled herself an expert.

The student and other non-consultant looked polite but disinterested, and eventually the male consultant said something to the effect of "I'm sorry, we've been dominating the conversation." His assessment was accurate, as they certainly had, but I was too shy to it knowledge this out right and  instead said "oh, that's all right."

what I would have liked to been be able to do would be to redirect the conversation earlier on to be inclusive of the student that was there and of interest to everyone, and to try to create a sense of collegiality where we were all there to learn from each other. this certainly would have been different from the tone of the conversation where this woman was setting herself up as the all-time expert on consulting work in our field.

So: how could I have done so gracefully, and what would have been an acceptable way to use the male consultant's apology to bean dip the conversation in a more positive direction?

lowspark

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 10:55:50 AM »
I probably would have just started a completely different conversation with one of the other people at the table, the student or the other woman, or both. Ask the student what university they're at, their major, etc. Ask the other woman about her job, company, etc. Not all five people at the table have to be in the one conversation.

If that failed, I'd have excused myself to get a drink/food/go to the ladies room and not returned. In an event like that, it should be easy enough to move on and find another conversation to join.

pinkflamingo

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 11:00:46 AM »
If there were a commonality among you, the consultants, and the other people at the table, you could have said, "Oh, that's all right, but tell me, what do you think about [topic applicable to all]?"

If no common bond existed other than the event, I would have started my own conversation with the other people.

greencat

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 12:45:28 PM »
When someone is holding court instead of holding a conversation with me, and I'm not interested in being lectured, I usually turn away and start a quiet conversation with the person on the other side of me, if they look equally disinterested or appear equally frustrated with being talked over and ignored.  Most of the time they don't even notice I'm no longer listening, since they're not paying attention to anything besides themselves.  I think it's more polite to the rest of the group than trying to overpower the person dominating the conversation.

alwayschoclat

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 12:48:34 PM »
I definitely should have just moved on and started mingling with one of the other groups. unfortunately, the student was on the other side of the two consultants, and they were clearly speaking to myself and the other woman rather than speaking to each other, so it would have felt quite awkward to start a new discussion.

Perhaps when the male consultant commented that they were dominating the conversation, I could have taken that opportunity to say "oh, that's alright, but I've worked as a consultant in the past so none of what you are saying is news to me" and excused myself? Or would that have been rude?

lowspark

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 01:36:39 PM »
Well, in my opinion, it's never rude to excuse yourself to go to the restroom. You don't really even have to wait for a pause if there aren't any. You can just stand up and say, "excuse me, I have to run to the ladies' room". No one will think you are rude -- nature calls.

I think that when people are dominating a conversation in this fashion, i.e. we know everything there is to know about this subject, it's really hard to steer the conversation into any kind of tributary. You have to get on a completely different topic or get away. And sometimes, even getting on a different topic doesn't work. If they are bent on continuing their diatribe, they will always manage to get back there.

Anyway, those are my two tried & true methods -- start a separate side conversation or excuse myself for food or restroom.

alwayschoclat

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 03:50:37 PM »
lowspark, you have nailed it. I absolutely could've excused myself to go to the washroom or get some more canapés, then joined a different conversation instead of returning.

wolfie

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Re: Bean-dipping a dominated conversation?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 04:28:47 PM »
You also didn't need to say "that's okay" either. You could have started another conversation at that point or said nothing or excused yourself.