Talker-over syndrome


Published: 11 Jun 2018

The 'Pure Mechanics' of Communication

Yes, it’s a real thing! It came up again in a recent workshop I ran, so here’s how to deal with it.

What do you do when you have a know-it-all in your life?

We all know that person. The person who talks over you. Is merely waiting for their time to talk instead of focusing on what you’re saying. Whatever you say they have their own opinion on it.

So how do you deal with that?

First of all – try to figure out what their motivation is for behaving in this manner?

Have they always been like that? Are they like it with other people, or just you?

Once you have a handle on the motivation it should lead you to how you could deal with it.

When in live events the audience is asked “Who among you is a talker over?” invariably at least 3-4 people put their hands up. When asked what their motivation is the answers include: “I get excited and just want to put my point across.” “I usually have the answer.” Not pretty, either option – and imagine how that feels to be on the other end of that? That isn’t human interaction, inclusive. That, is merely them using you as an audience!

Know-it-all’s sometimes have jealously as their motivation, and over competitiveness kicks in as they feel the need to prove themselves. There is no pleasure in a conversation with someone like this. You end up walking away feeling unheard, and under-valued. In addition, you just lost precious time to this person!

So where to start? Well, if you can, cut them off early. You can do this in two ways. The first is by asking lots of questions. This stops the ‘story’ and makes them focus on the facts, hopefully without embellishment. So, if, for example they start off on a story you know will be long winded, interject with questions to try and stop the flow.

The other option is to use body language, this could be in the form of a soft upwards hand to symbolise ‘stop’, then you could put your point forward at that point. In essence, you are re-training this person to be a more considerate conversationalist. If it doesn’t work, then you have a decision to make. If it’s a person you don’t need to have in your life, then think about that – reducing or stopping contact.

If it’s your boss – use questions that make him or her accountable, check the priorities, and clarify what has been said in a long string of information.

If it’s a friend, then you may need to have a courageous conversation and ask straight up why they treat you like that? If they are truly a friend they will acknowledge their behaviour.

The hardest thing to convey in workshops and speaking events is that when you re-programme people to be better communicators you are doing them a huge favour and service. Think of it as a kindness and it is often easier to put into effect. Having the confidence to address someone like this is never easy, but just consider the alternative? Putting up with it……… every time you see them!

Try these simple tips –  and let me know how you get on. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply