When it comes to my communication style, I am an introvert with some learned extrovert qualities. In large group settings whether socially or professionally, I find it difficult to express myself vocally, especially when in the midst of people who love to dominate a conversation. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having a lot to say in a conversation; honestly, I find it refreshing and inspiring when others can communicate their opinions and ideologies vocally regardless of what milieu they are in—something I wish I could boldly do more often. But as an occasionally quiet person myself, I feel the pain of those who would also love to chime into a conversation every now and then with their own thoughts but can’t seem to do so because they are either interrupted when they speak, they have someone who goes off on a tangent and can’t seem to listen to anything they are saying. If you are in such situations, what do you do?
Well here’s how I’ve learned to deal with conversation dominators:
The one who can’t seem to stop hijacking a conversation: I find that it’s easier if you let them have their say and then try to tune them out when the conversation seems to have no end in sight. Then politely excuse yourself from the conversation when you have had enough. It’s really that simple.
The one who can’t seem to stop interrupting everyone: This I find very annoying and frustrating. In such an instance, you must be stern with them and simply say, “excuse me, but please let me finish articulating my thoughts without interrupting me” … “I will give you ample of time to respond when I am finished speaking” doing this firmly and in a polite manner can be quite powerful and effective.It also gets people to give you the respect that you are due in a conversation.
The one who pretty much talks about the same topic over and over: in such situation let them know you understand their points. You see where they are coming from with their perspectives, and then try to add your own thoughts to the conversation. Now, if they insist on repeating the topic, then simply say to them, “we are going around in circles here, you have already said this and try to change the topic in a way that adds to the conversation.
The one who thinks that they are the life of the conversation: OK, people like this can be quite annoying and here’s why:
1) they think they liven any conversation they are in when in actuality they are preventing others from having fun. I usually find these people to have narcissistic tendencies (hey Donald trump). So, when you encounter such an individual, do not give them an audience nor encourage such behavior. To shut them up, just excuse yourself and have a conversation with another person next to you. Nothing annoys them more than losing their audience and not having a stage to facilitate their never-ending monologue about themselves.
And if all else fails, if you feel comfortable enough around the person, simply pull them aside and tell them how you feel about their conversation style and how disruptive they have been. Doing this won’t result in an immediate change but being open with them might help them realize their communication faux pas.
Three women going through life.