How to handle someone who talks about him/herself constantly
How to Deal with Someone Who Talks Too Much in Meetings
At some point in your professional life, you have probably encountered a coworker who dominated workplace meetings. They may shoot down everyone else’s ideas in favor of their own, or they may interrupt others continuously to add comments. Whichever type of meeting dominator you are dealing with, you can agree that this person incites fury and sandbags your meetings completely. Learn how to respond to domination in a non-aggressive way, minimize someone taking over meetings, and set up successful meetings from the start.
Responding to Domination
Listen, but do not encourage.Maintain a neutral and level expression to the person who is talking. If you are trying to redirect the conversation, avoid any positive or negative responses, such as smiling or eye-rolling while the person is speaking, as either could make them want to go on more. Also, avoid interrupting, as that will likely make the person go on longer.
- This approach works best if you are a peer of the person or in a non-leadership role.
Redirect the topic of conversation.Pay a compliment to the person who is speaking, but then change the topic to keep the conversation going in a different way. This way you gratify the person, yet take the opportunity to get the meeting back on track.
- For instance, you could say, “Thanks, Tyler. I like that idea. Mary, do you have any ideas on how to increase fourth quarter revenue?” Acknowledging the person who is speaking too long tells them to relinquish the floor in a gentle way, and then gives someone else the chance to speak.
Let your body language send a message.Since everyone has the right to express their ideas in a meeting, be courteous, even to a dominator. Keep eye contact with the person who is talking and give an encouraging nod here and there when you want the person to keep talking. But, when it is time for them to stop, send a clear message with your body language.
- You can do this by orienting away from them to someone else, crossing your arms and/or legs, and acknowledging the next person by making contact. If you are in a supervisory role, getting up and walking around the table can help signify a change of pace and let the person know it is time to move on to someone else.
- This is a good option if you are running the meeting or if you are the person’s supervisor or manager.
Be firm with a chronic interrupter.Some people--whether consciously or subconsciously--think they should always be talking. This becomes a problem when they shouldn't be. Perhaps you're sharing your ideas and they butt in with their own. If this happens, there are ways of dealing with a person who rudely interrupts when you are talking in meetings.
- Ask to finish. True enough, you shouldn't have to ask to finish talking when you have the full attention of all but one person. But, doing this firmly can help the interrupter remember that you were, indeed, talking and you'd like to complete your thought. Say, "Hey, Randy, I wasn't finished. Can you hold your comments for a second?"
- Keep talking as if you did not notice their attempt to butt in. Although this could lead to a confusing moment of both of you talking at once, the other person will probably recognize that you won't be handing the floor over to them. Hopefully, they'll relent.
Pull the person aside and call out the behavior.Tell the person directly that they overtake the meetings and don’t allow others to speak. Do this gently, while making sure they understand that dominating is not okay.
- For example, you could say, “You are very involved and knowledgeable about this topic, but it is important that other people also feel free to make their contributions. Plus, if you are providing all of the information, other people are going to have a hard time participating.” Saying this offers encouragement, but also gets the point across.
Emphasize that everyone’s participation is a requirement.Tell your co-workers that their opinions matter, too, by getting everyone involved. This can be as simple as going around the table and asking each person what they think about a certain topic.
- Getting them involved too, instead of just letting one person dominate the meeting, will encourage them to speak up and not allow someone to take the floor the entire time.
- You can simply say, "In our office, all opinions are valued. So, everyone deserves an opportunity to speak. Those of you who are timid will need to assert yourselves, and those of you who do all the talking need to start sharing the floor."
Start by asking feedback from someone else.If you know that a person has a tendency to go on and on, save their feedback for last. Ask another person their take on the topic at hand instead. Then, keep going around the table until the people who don’t usually get an opportunity to speak actually do.
- Ramblers may want to interrupt, but if they do just hold up a finger and say “Everyone will have a chance to speak, Ricky...Go on, Meredith.”
Go around the room with timed comments.Determine a set time limit for each person and set a timer. Doing so helps you to keep the meeting on schedule and may prevent it from taking too long. It can also prevent one person from rambling on and on and taking over the entire meeting.
- Let everyone know what the time limit is a few days ahead of the meeting if they will be expected to develop presentations, or inform them at the beginning of the meeting of their allotted time.
Having Better Meetings
Set clear ground rules.Begin the meeting by letting everyone know what you are discussing, what the purpose of getting together is, and how long the meeting will last.
- Starting the meeting by setting these rules can help the meeting run as it is supposed to. It may prevent your team from getting off topic, and encourage them to work together to come up with ideas.
- Say something like “Hey, everyone, I’m sure you all have much to discuss, but this will be a short meeting today. The topic of focus is the annual charity event. Let’s stick to that so we can make some progress.”
Stick to an agenda.Create a schedule that includes topic of conversation, as well as time limits for each person. Creating these rules not only keeps the meeting on schedule, but it can also prevent people from talking for too long and dominating the meeting. Assign a timekeeper to ensure no one goes over their time limits.
Split off into groups, placing high-verbal individuals together.Stick the people who like to dominate meetings together in a small group while the others meet in another group. Doing so allows the people who don’t get a chance to speak up the opportunity to have their voices heard.
- Stop the groups after about 10 minutes to limit their time talking and to show that you don’t need massive amounts of time to come up with a solution.
Have the group evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings.Ask your co-workers what they thought of the meeting. They can either write their opinions down on paper, or speak with you directly about their opinions regarding the meeting. This gives you the opportunity to ask the others what they feel about the person in question, if need be.
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