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8 Ways to Interrupt an Incessant Talker

Once they open their mouths, some folks don’t know how to shut them. They seem unable to differentiate monologue from dialogue, dissertation from conversation, minutiae from significant details.

When you’re in such a “conversation,” you may initially think of yourself as a good listener. However, it’s not long before you realize that you’ve become the captive audience for one who will drone on and on for as long as you allow it to happen.

Giving indirect hints that “enough is enough” usually doesn’t work. Hence, in such situations, you not only have a right to interrupt, you also have an obligation to do so to maintain your sanity.

So how do you do it without coming across as rude?

13 Comments to
8 Ways to Interrupt an Incessant Talker

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  1. I have been friends with someone for forty years who completely monopolizes our comversations. No matter what I say to her, she keeps on talking and repeating everything she has already told me. I have even interrupted her to tell her something deeply personal and shocking that has happened to me and after 2 -3 seconds she continues on with her original thought, everything and everyone she has done or met ths week. It is absolutely baffling. I used to be able to slow her down and get a word in edgewise but in the last ten years any attempt on my part to help her realize what she is doing results in a temper flare or rage. She is currently on anti depression meds and suffers from a chronic painful illness. Is this a condition or illness? Is there any literature or studies done on this? I am sure everyone knows a person likes this so it must be somewhat common. I would appreciate any advice.

    • Yes, I also have a long term friend like this. I finally recognized it as a control issue with her and gave up on the idea that she is interested in MY thoughts and feelings. Now I simply keep conversations brief and refuse to be drawn in any more. It’s quite funny because she even does it in her emails. I agree that being “held hostage” is the correct term for it.

      • P.S. I think it is called “Narcissism”. Do some research on the subject and you will better understand who you are dealing with. :)

  2. Speak her name,and calmly reply, I understand your upset and neef to discuss this but in order for me to be able to help you your going to need to rekax and let me interupt you for a moment so that i can tell you something very important that may relate to or aid you in your situation

  3. Can’t speak for everyone – though you would think I took that as my personal mission in life- but for me it is not intentional. I don’t even realize when I have crossed over into the zone. I attribute it to my nervous disorder. I truly care more of what others have to say than myself. I try to catch myself and am slowly getting better. Strangely enough, I have noticed a big increase in awkward conversational gaps. I just laugh. It’s good for people to know they actually do enjoy listening to me….sometimes :)

  4. There are people who seem to know everything about everybody and anything .They are are obsessed to keep themselves up to date with everything ,in order to impress others.It s like a trainment, a mind game.They want so hard to draw attention upon them…Maybe that s an illness,something that makes the rest of us feel uneasy.Or maybe just some of us,because unfortunately,there are people who find themselves drawn to this persons,like they are some kind of charismatic leaders.History has enough paranoid characters.
    I think they are just narcisistic and totally unable to understand the concept of communication.

  5. Well I am more… into help people than AVOID them as a solution.
    Why don’t we approach this in a “HELP” way?

    “Bob do you know that you have a problem to gave up your speech?”

    Usually people don’t realise that they got a problem, especially if the audience never show it.
    “Bob, do you know that you can speak forever? Can you see that you never let people go or interact with you?”
    If we talk too much or if we never let other to participate it could caused by some problems, here just small amount to bring more light to the problem.

    • It could be a characteristic of ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder) ADHD got a vast spectrum and could keep affecting people in adult life, help and training is the best way to overcome mild’s problems and social adaptation.
    • High anxiety: levels of anxiety could disturb speech and the way how we say or expose things.
    • Lack of self confidence: The prolific talking is an unstoppable way to reaffirm and constructing evidences to reinforce something that we are not confident if other people will understand us.
    • Massive detailed thoughts: Some people are so rich on the amount of information that they have problems in the way that they express it.

    “Bob, do you know that it could be a psychological issue and it could lead you to social problems?”
    Let me help you with some points…

    First of all, do not be afraid or ashamed to seek help, talk to your psychologist and you going to gain more confidence about the problem. We don’t want to avoid you and we want to share and receive from you the good things that you have to share.
    Main wile you could pay attention for some small advices:

    There are some facts that will help you to measure if you are crossing the normal conversation into the problematic one.

    Timing: Don’t cross more than two minutes explaining things.
    Each speech got its own time; once the idea is shared it is normal to stop to see if others understood and if they want to make their addictions to the matter OR IF THEY WANT TO STOP and for ANY reason.
    Control you desire to put everything at once.

    Interaction: Let space to it.
    Others are eager to share or to be part of the conversation: to reaffirm, deny, agree, add, and to listen more. Look at them and see how they react.
    Relevance: mind relevance on your conversation.
    People share thing that are relevant, if not it needs to die as quick as possible because it is just not relevant. If we keep an irrelevant conversation you are make it into boredom, people are listening with strong desire to run out from you.
    Help people to like you:
    As a listener or a speaker you got to understand that all in a good conversation is who wonderful and amazing is to communicate yourself and how much we can learn together.
    Some people never got the opportunity to get better if they get avoided. They are amazing people and they need a little help.
    Some people need time to understand everything that is in your mind. We have to find a way to better express ourselves.

    Help is better than avoidance.

    Paul McCullough

  6. Of course they shoud seek for help,but most of the times,people will mock your suggestion.But things get worse when somebody has to put up with all this.It s not just the party conversations.It can happen in school,or at your job.Your boss can be a person who s problem of lacking self confidence can lead him to overcompensate it.And there is so little you can do.Sometimes,like in school,this can be associated with violence and/or the manipulation of others.Sometimes people who try to compensate their feeling of insecurity,surround themselves with other people who listen to them and will defend them in some way.There are so many situations,and therefore,there are many ways we can react.I think everyone should be more counscious and take more seriously the apparently small things that happen around them.And this is for the teachers too.

  7. I am the author of this article. Thanks for your interest in this topic. As you can see from the comments made, there can be multiple reasons why people monopolize a conversation. Some may have deep personality flaws, some may just be clueless. Regardless of the reasons, you (the person held hostage) need to learn how to deal with the situation. Hopefully my ideas were helpful to you. My articles usually provide practical skills for people to help them navigate difficult situations.

    For more articles that may be helpful to you, subscribe to my e-newsletter at my website.

  8. These people are often extroverts – they talk to process their own ideas, whereas we introverts process our ideas before we talk. Read ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain – it’s great!

  9. Good tips for redirecting some convos. However, if you have ever been truly trapped by an Incessant Talker in a nonstop history of the world, there is no pause, no chance opening to “segue into another topic.” These people have been talking incessantly for all their lives and know how to keep the words coming without hesitation. Yes, they are insecure: they lose friends because they cannot stand silence, they are soothed by the drowning sound of their own voice. What happens is you never get a split second to interject, redirect, segue, rescue the convo. These people have a sickness. It can’t be managed by artful dodging; they “win” by overwhelming you.
    Here is a proven technique: you know when you next see this person your ears are going to start burning. Stop him/her in the very first sentence for clarification. Any point, just question it, say you didn’t hear it, not sure what he/she means, etc. As the IT regroups and responds, interrupt again on another point of order. Once IT realizes you are not going to be viewing this TV program silently you can interrupt again, and start talking on this or any related subject. If she/he then catches on to the game and counters with an interruption, the game is on. You’ll have to now play your cards…….

  10. My mother-in-law is an incessant talker. If you ask the woman a quick, yes-or-no question, she responds with a 20-minute monologue (no, I’m not exaggerating).

    She does this for two reasons. First, her own mother monopolized “conversations” because she constantly needed to be the center of attention, and MIL thinks its now her turn. Second, MIL truly believes that she’s a captivating and entertaining storyteller, and that her audiences are engrossed.

    So many times, I’ve heard her brother, husband, and 3 sons tell her to get to the point and that she’s boring people. She’s very dismissive and never believes them.

    I learned years ago that I don’t have the power or right to get MIL to stop talking. But, similarly, nobody has the power or right to make me listen. After the first few words, I turn on a mute button within my head. Her words become “Blah, blah, blah” and then fade into background noise.

  11. Another tip — the cellphone ploy, which works as well as the bathroom excuse. Simply pretend that your cellphone just vibrated, take it out and look at the non-caller’s name, and interrupt with, “I’m so sorry, but I really need to take this call.” Then, leave the room, or move to another area, for your “call.” Make sure that the chatterbox is talking to someone else before you return. Yes, it’s a fib, but it diffuses the situation without any hurt feelings.



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