Who is controlling the conversation?

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Have you ever been excited to tell someone about something that you have an interest in, but discovered halfway through the conversation you have become the listener instead of the speaker?
I have and it is one of the most annoying, and rude, things I can think when it comes interacting with other people.

Imagine yourself wanting to tell someone a story about anything. You are really excited about it and can’t wait to tell that person, but while telling your story you end up being the one listening to the other person’s story and experience with a similar experience; or even worse, it ends up in a ‘difference of opinion’ debate.

To use a very broad term, this is usually done by people who has a slightly unhealthy appetite for attention and being in the limelight. I wouldn’t be shocked if most of these people did it without being aware of that they are rudely interrupting conversations.

Everyone has a story and everyone prefers that everyone else is silent when they tell someone there story.
It has little to do with being in the limelight, for those who just want to tell the story, it has more to do with being appreciated for passing on this piece of information; be it trivial or important.

How do you think someone delivering an important speech to the public would feel if someone constantly interrupted her/him? A bit annoyed, right?

This issue can easily be made into an introvert vs. extrovert. By doing this it makes it more easier to explain what each person can do and not do to improve the situation.

If you are the extrovert who constantly feels they need to add to the discussion, this is why you might be doing it and why you need and have to stop with it right now!

  • Stop and listen!
    Listening isn’t just a passive activity, it is in fact an active activity too. Listen to what the other person is saying and wait until the person has finished talking. Don’t wait for micro-pauses to jump in to the conversation, because it is not a conversation. The person is the speaker and hoped that you would be the listener this time.
    If you show to this person that you are willing to listen, maybe that will make that person more willing to listen to you next time.
  • What you think is not important, this time!
    As you love to be in the limelight and share your views about almost everything, this is not the time! Someone who has an opinion about everything is called a know-it-all, and is not a positive label to receive. Be humble, swallow your pride and pretend you know nothing about what the person is talking so you can let him/her educate you about it.
    By listening, you not only show you care about the topic, but you also show you value the person and her/his knowledge and opinions.
  • This is not a debate!
    Sometimes you have to accept that people have different views than you, and sometimes you have to understand that not all topics are up for debate. Ever experienced someone talking over you, telling you are wrong, questioning your views and knowledge, etc? Annoying, isn’t it? Now stop doing it to other people!
    Just because you have different opinions doesn’t mean it needs to be debated!

Try to understand that doing the opposite of what is written here is a perfect recipe to be annoying, rude and to lose friends very quickly. We all have opinions and stories to tell, but sometimes those stories are best told by the storyteller alone, without your input, views and other verbal interruptions. It’s not that your views are not important, it’s more that your views might not be appreciated all the time.

If you are the introvert who are constantly being pushed aside when telling your story, this is why you shouldn’t feel bad and how to maybe deal with it.

  • Raise your voice by showing who is talking!
    For some it might seem rude to raise your voice when you talk about something neutral, but it is also rude to interrupt someone who is talking. This will show that you have more to say and are not willing to let someone talk until you are actually finished talking.
    The more confidence you show, the less you have to raise your voice.
  • Tell them you are not finished!
    Simply tell them that you are not finished talking and that because you are constantly interrupted you are losing your train of thought. This is more like a guilt-trip approach, and can work if executed confidently and assertive.
    Also try to explain to them that you would appreciate if you could finish your story once in a while without any interruptions, without having to debate your story and just sometimes have your talk treated as a monologue.
    You are the one that wanted to tell something, not them!
  • Stop talking to them!
    This is a last resort tactic, but if you have tried to reason with them that you would appreciate if you could be the one telling the story once in a while too, it might be time to stop wasting energy on this person. Talk with people who actually want to listen to you and what you have to say.
    Why should you pay attention to someone who doesn’t pay attention to you?

As you are dealing with a person who might obviously lack some social skills, there isn’t really much you can do. The first two are more or less attempts to change the behaviour of a person who too often never lets you have your say, and the last one is truly a last resort that I sadly think most people resort to.
Most people who think they need to add their two cents to everything tend to have far too many cents to spare, so they see you are the one not willing to let them have a go at talking.

I think everyone has been there, even extraverted people, when they have met their match, which is a scary thought if you ask me. Sadly enough, they seem to never learn from it, other than take it out on you, the introverted person with polite social manners.

This is not as easy as introverts vs. extroverts, but to explain the issue it makes it easier to use these to personality traits. As mentioned, this is something that can truly destroy any relationship, because feeling that you are never heard or your views appreciated is something no one likes. Everyone wants and needs some kind of positive attention and appreciation.
This can also be easily be transferred over to work situations, where you have the boss who thinks she/he knows everything and the employee is assumed to know nothing. Think about it and suddenly you might understand why you, as a manager, might not get the respect you deserve from your team.

Two proverbs come to mind in regards to this issue.

  • Give and you shall receive.
  • Treat others as you want others to treat you.

So simple, yet so true.

Next time someone has something to say, just listen and act like you are non the wiser about the topic.

About the author:
Dr. W (not that kind of doctor) has always stood up for who he is, but
it was just a few years ago he found out that he fits the introvert
personality trait (INTJ). He has always loved writing, which is why he
eventually ended up as a blogger (randomoid.com). At the moment he is
very influenced by gonzo journalism and new journalism. Most of what he
writes is based on his own experiences; and he prefers to season his
stories with facts, rather than assumptions.

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