We’ve all been at the mercy of someone who talks a lot. Most of these folks are nice people, but for every sentence you say, they go on for another five minutes or so.
Often I reach a point in my workday where I need to find a way to conclude these conversations in a professional way so that I don’t lose productivity. The tactic I use most is to stop talking. Somewhere during the conversation the other person will take a deep breath or wait for me to respond in some way. However, I know if I say something it’s going to generate another several minutes on the phone. By remaining silent for a moment or two, it breaks the pattern. At this point I usually say that I’ve enjoyed talking with the person. I thank them for their time and what they shared. Then, I explain I have a commitment to get back to.
One reason these conversations tend to go on is because many of us feel that we need to have the last word. When chatting with such people it’s unlikely you will ever get in the last word; why bother trying?
When I place or receive a call from someone I know tends to carry on long chats, I communicate up front that I only have a specific period of time before my next commitment. Later in the conversation I will chime in “I hate to cut you off, but as I mentioned, I have a client call in three minutes” or whatever the commitment might be.
Job said, “Will your long-winded speeches never end?” (Job 16:3a, NIV) In our businesses we need to look for ways to end long-winded speeches to preserve productivity.
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