You have tons of valuable ideas to share in your team meeting—if only you could get a word in edgewise. Instead, you feel like you have to sit there with your lips zipped while your notoriously motor-mouthed co-worker blabbers on and on without breathing.
Dealing with someone who monopolizes every discussion is frustrating. On the one hand, you’re desperate for a brief pause when you could actually speak instead of listen. But, on the other hand, you don’t want the tables to turn and make you look like an inconsiderate interrupter—or worse, a conversation hog yourself.
So, what can you realistically do when you’re talking with someone who views every exchange as a one-sided speech? These phrases should help you steer things back in a more equal and productive direction.
1. “I Have Something to Add”
When you’re face-to-face with someone who continues to overwhelm every conversation, it’s tempting to fall into the trap of asking for permission to speak up. You find yourself saying things like, “I’m sorry, can I interrupt?” or even, “Can I say something?”
Rest assured, just because this person is up on his soapbox doesn’t mean that he makes all of the decisions about who gets to speak and when. You’re more than entitled to share your own valuable contributions. And, further more, you don’t need to ask that conversation hog’s permission to do so.
Instead, use a phrase like this one to explicitly state that you have something to add to that specific topic. When you preface your two cents with this sort of direct introduction, it makes it clear that you have something purposeful to say—and, as a result, you expect to be listened to.
2. “Let’s Stop for a Minute”
Not all conversation hogs have bad intentions. In fact, many times these people find themselves so excited and passionate about what’s being discussed, they don’t even realize how much they’re talking or how fast they’re going—until you force them to pause and inhale.
If that chatterbox is doing so much speaking that nobody has a chance to process the information, it’s worth reminding that person that you all need a moment to stop, soak everything in, and collect your thoughts so that you can continue the exchange from there.
Yes, this “stop rambling for a minute” approach can feel a little direct. But, once you encourage that person to step back and reflect on the discussion so far, she will likely realize just how much talking she’s been doing. So, this brief and intentional pause gives everyone—including that conversation hog—a chance to regroup and adjust.
3. “I’m Curious to Hear What [Name] Thinks About This”
For most people, a discussion resembles a ball that you throw back and forth—that sort of approach keeps the exchange evenly balanced and productive. But, here’s the problem: Conversation hogs will white-knuckle that ball until they’re blue in the face. So, sometimes it’s up to you to encourage some friendly passing.
You know that you’re not the only person in that room who has helpful thoughts to share—and, you’re likely not the only one who’s frustrated with the person who’s monopolizing that exchange, either.
This sort of phrase brings other people into the discussion in a way that feels constructive and helpful. And, it also serves as a gentle reminder that you’re all there to participate in a dialogue, rather than listen to that one person’s seemingly endless monologue.
You want to be able to join a discussion and contribute your ideas—without feeling like you have a finite amount of time before that chatterbox chimes in and starts steamrolling everyone again. And, these sorts of phrases can help you do just that.
What should you do if that person keeps trying to jump back in an start rambling at inappropriate times? Use these helpful tips on how to deal when you keep being interrupted.
Take it from a self-proclaimed conversation hog—that person won’t be able to change overnight. But, taking these steps should help those motor mouths open up the floor for other people (and, you know, take a much-needed breath every once in a while).
Photo of people meeting courtesy of Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author