It'd be easier to have a conversation if I could get a word in edgeways
February 13, 2012 9:40 AM Subscribe
What's the best way to deal with people who talk over you?
I don't mean people who are trying to be antagonistic or confrontational, and bludgeoning you with words as part of that effort. I'm talking about people who mean well, but just aren't great at the give-and-take of normal conversation - specifically, the part where other people get a turn at speaking too.
There are a couple of people I know, personally and professionally, who have a habit of doing this. When they're talking, they're like radios set to 'broadcast' rather than 'receive', and any attempts to respond, reply, or interrupt in any way are just bulldozed over (sometimes totally obliviously, sometimes by them upping the volume/speed of their own voice until you're quiet again). The end result is an uninterruptable monologue - "I was thinking about that underwater basketweaving programme you suggested, but then I remembered, what about all the sharks? I mean, sharks could bite, right? And maybe shoals of passing cod could interrupt the basketweaving patterns, or they could disturb our breathing equipment, so that's an issue on top of the safety thing, so maybe we shouldn't. BUT THEN I suppose that the water would keep the basketweaving materials supple, yeah, it'd definitely keep them a lot more flexible than they are on land, definitely, and that's got to be more important than safety concerns, so let's just ignore the sharks and go ahead with it. Except wait I forgot: urchin allergies!" - while you're stuck going "But -" and "Well, there's -" and "Hey, can I -", and trying in vain to explain that Operation Basketsnorkel has already been cancelled.
It drives me crazy, not least because I grew up in a family where talking over someone else was considered the height of rudeness. Which I suspect is part of the problem, because I feel so uncomfortable with the idea of talking back over the talky person until they shush, and maybe that's what they're actually expecting me to do. Or maybe it's not? I have no idea, really. I'm not even sure these people know they're doing it.
And so I turn to you, AskMe: what's a good friendly-but-effective way to deal with this?