You wouldn’t be polite to someone who reached into your pocket to steal your credit cards. Don’t be polite with people who persistently steal your time by talking on and on.
Common rules of courtesy don’t apply to unrepentant blabbermouths.
Here's how to politely break the rules of courtesy:
Interrupt – Confess confusion.
The moment you feel confused, gently interrupt and say, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m lost. Give me your conclusion.”
What’s the point of letting someone talk when they lost you five minutes ago?
Interrupt – Confront wandering.
Blabbers always go off topic.
The moment someone starts wandering, gently interrupt and say, “I’m lost. What’s the the connection between what you’re saying and the issue at hand?”
Interrupt – Challenge bull crap.
Bull crap happens when you ask what they’re doing to solve this issue. They talk about what other people need to do.
Challenge avoidance, confront smoke blowing, and explore excuses.
Interrupt with kind candor, courageous transparency, and forward-facing curiosity. But whatever you do, speak up, unless you want more of the same.
Blabbermouths in meetings:
If you lead meetings, everyone is waiting for you to deal with blabbermouths. Not only are blabbers stealing time from you, they’re stealing everyone else’s time too. Honor the team. Politely interrupt blabbermouths.
5 quick tips:
- Err on the side of courtesy. Don’t rush to judgement.
- Take a gentle, private approach first.
- Leave the past in the past. Don’t say, “You always talk on and on.”
- Ask specific questions. Listen for specific answers. Interrupt and ask again.
- Ask for conclusions at the beginning. “Give me your conclusion.”
Listen patiently to people who need to unburden their hearts, if it’s not a pattern.
Give space to someone with unique expertise, useful insights, and relevant experience.
Ideas to Ponder:
- How might leaders deal with people who talk too long?
- When is it appropriate to listen to someone who is talking ‘too’ long?