I admit it! For much of my life I was a “Chatty Kathy”. She was my favorite doll as a little girl and I had no qualms about being compared to her. I always giggled and shrugged and didn’t know it wasn’t a compliment! I didn’t feel bad about having the “gift of gab” and always felt proud like I could keep the conversation going when others couldn’t.
Then I started coaching Introverts and listened to what they thought about those individuals who were constantly talking and didn’t give others a chance to speak. The more I heard, the more I understood, that even the dominating personalities need to work on their communication skills!
So let’s break it down.
Let’s say you’re in a conversation with a new person and he or she is completely dominating every aspect of the conversation. What is your tactic? Do you slink away and run for the hills? Do you try to interrupt them and appear rude? Do you give snarly looks to the person who is also receiving the brunt of the matter?
There are a few things that you can do to tone down the one who dominates. First of all, physically, get your body STRONG. Stand up straight and lean in. Be a PART of this conversation and let the person know, you’re ALL IN. This subtle shift in body language will put the person on alert that YOU are engaged and armed and ready.
Next, start talking OVER the person in AGREEMENT. If you do it slow, you’re toast. But if you match his or her tempo, which is probably fast, and say agreeing words such as “RIGHT! RIGHT! RIGHT!” as fast as they’re talking, or make bold sweeping statements like, “WOW that’s INTERESTING” or , “yes, I UNDERSTAND, BUT…..” Then.. THROW OUT a QUESTION!
WHAT? But isn’t a question going to make them talk MORE? Yes! But the more you do this pattern of INTERRUPTING and tossing out a QUESTION, you’re NOW taking CONTROL of the conversation!
The key? Short, QUICK questions, and/or “interrupting statements” that will break the pattern of the person talking and talking and talking. They actually will slow down and match you and will listen to the person who can be bold enough to interrupt and redirect the conversation. If you’re good, you can throw the question to another person in the group and hijack the conversation in its entirety!
Does this take time? Yes, of course, but it’s a great strategy. Let’s discuss another.
Once I had a neighbor who would NOT stop talking every time I saw her. In one breath she could recite a monologue that wouldn’t engage her listener whatsoever. So, I developed a strategy! Whenever I saw her I’d be overly enthusiastic and excited to see her and it would go something like this: “Oh wow, Linda! How are you? It’s so great to see you! I see you’ve been shopping! Oh I just got back from shopping and there was an amazing sale at Macy’s and I got this adorable outfit for fall. Can you believe it’s fall? Oh my gosh, the weather is so amazing, it’s so exciting that we’ll get to wear our winter clothes soon! Well I’m off and running! See you later!”
She soon began avoiding me and that took care of that!
For introverts, these strategies can be exhausting and they just don’t have the energy to do them. But over time, learning these will save anyone lots of frustration! The big talker is usually a jovial person and loves the art of communication so they won’t be offended for someone redirecting the conversation or hijacking it. They’re still going to put in their two cents worth and keep the conversation alive!
I would love to hear if any of these techniques work for you the next time you’re with a Chatty Kathy! Be prepared to talk by skimming the news headlines and have the courage to share your opinions once you have the “floor”… Because once there is a lull in conversation again, they’ll be back up and running!
And soon it will be time to INTERRUPT again!!!!