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How to Outtalk an Over-Talker

Over talkers use ego and arrogance to bully a conversation their way. Fight back with wit, humor, and, of course, manners.

By
Richie Frieman,
January 10, 2016
Episode #371

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You've probably been in a situation where you find yourself thinking, “Why won’t this person stop talking? Seriously!” In many cases, you’ll add in an expletive there for good measure. From the rambler to the ego driven character, or just someone who likes to hear their own voice, over talkers can crush the mood of a conversation faster than Johnny Manziel can ruin ticket sales for Cleveland Football fans. 

However, unlike Johnny Football trashing his rep as a role model with nightclub mishaps, you can salvage any conversation by out-talking an over talker with wit, charm, and, of course, manners. So before you shout, “SHUT THE —— UP!” take a breath, and check out my top three quick and dirty tips for how to properly outtalk an over-talker.

Tip #1: Handle the Rambler

The Rambler is by far the least offensive of the over talkers, because deep down, they mean well but have absolutely no idea how to properly carry a conversation. Despite their extreme naïveté to being boring, I’m still stocked that, as adults, a rambler has managed to make it this far in life and not have every single door shut on them. For example, an ex-coworker of mine became a manager, and could literally talk for 45 minutes without making one true, valid point. It wasn’t even several points, twisted into a long-winded speech, where they just get excited and don’t want to end the conversation. This person would dance around, like a pirate’s prisoner begging for their life, before walking off the plank. We all found it super annoying, highly improper and grossly unprofessional. Yet regardless of the anomaly that he was—having made manager while being completely inept—being a rambler will 99.9% of the time take away any credibility you had built up. It makes you look/sound nervous, unsure, and as if you are purposely trying to isolate the conversation.

Like I did with my rambling colleague, he had a reputation for doing this time and time again, so we—as a staff—kept an eye out to anticipate the ramble before it arrived. See, we all knew that as soon as his mouth opened, we were in for a world of mind numbing, one-way conversation with no end in sight. But knowing this fact saved us even more torture. To counter his ramble, I/we would use words or phrases that were designed to derail the conversation and direct it into a more constructive route. Proper phrases like, “Speaking of that," “Interesting, but what about this," or “That reminds me of XYZ…” would help. Using phrases like this allows you to interject your thoughts into a conversation with a rambler without making it appear as if you’re trying to take it over(even though you are). Ramblers need to be stopped, however, sometimes they just need some friendly guidance.  

Tip #2: Master the Point Maker

Have you every had a conversation with someone who, before starting their rant, adds a disclaimer like, “Wait, let me make my point first”? What they’re really saying is, “Grab a drink, and have a seat because this is going to be a while.” Meet the Point Maker. This rude beast doesn’t have discussions; they have monologues. They don’t care if you get to make your point, or have your time on the docket at all. They have their own agenda. In some some bizarre twist of manners, they actually think that by stating they want to “make a point,” they’re being kind. I had an altercation with a Point Maker who seriously told me, “Let me say my side and then you can go,” rather than saying, “OK, we disagree, let’s discuss.” Folks, if you can’t make your point through healthy conversation going back and forth, then you have no valid point at all. It’s just a case of barking loud enough to scare people away. Oh, how I deeply loathe the Point Maker. Here’s a point worth making; you’re rude, improper, and use bully tactics to get your way … and it’s time to change that.

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