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How to Keep Someone From Monopolizing a Conversation

by Jennifer Oster

Sometimes it is difficult to interact with people who have over-the-top personalities -- especially when they take control of the conversation and you can't get a word in. Of course, the last thing you want to do is to be rude to the offender. By equipping yourself with some communication strategies, you may be able to get the conversation back on track and have an opportunity to speak.

Whose Fault Is It?

Ask yourself if the person who monopolizes the conversation is doing so because that's just part of his personality, or is he carrying the conversation because you don't add enough to the conversation. If you never speak up, chances are your conversation partner will fill in the gaps with his own dialogue -- and leave you out completely. You may just need to fill in the gaps as a simple solution.

Wait for a Pause

Wait for a pause in the conversation -- even if it's just for a second. Take advantage of the pause and address what the person just said. For example, you may say, "That's great!" and then quickly move on to a topic you want to address or say what you want to say. Do this regularly and the monopolizer will soon catch on that you want to be a part of the conversation.

Be Boisterous

If you want the outgoing person who regularly monopolizes conversations to realize that you want to take an active part in the discussion, you have to speak up, and loudly. Many times, people who take over conversations simply have expressive personalities -- they are outgoing, friendly and love to be the center of attention, but they can be overbearing. These people need a loud and clear sign. Talk slightly louder than the monopolizer and speak in complete sentences, not allowing her to interrupt you while you're speaking. Be as polite as you can about it, but take initiative.

Interrupt

If you can't get a word in edgewise, you may have to interrupt. Do so politely by saying, "Excuse me," or by saying the person's name. Usually the offender will stop and listen when he realizes you're trying to get a word in. Most conversation monopolizers aren't mean-hearted -- they just like to be the center of attention. When the person quiets, say what you need to say, and then pause so the person can respond. By doing this regularly, the person will learn the rules of a two-way conversation.

Address the Issue

Although this method is the most confrontational, it may solve your problem. By communicating to the conversation monopolizer that you can't ever get a word in, she'll likely apologize and try to become more aware of her communication habits in the future. Be aware that this may not be well-received -- hearing that you've been impolite in conversation when you may not have been aware of it is something that's tough to hear. Let the person know that you just want to be honest so that you can have productive conversations in the future.

About the Author

Jennifer Oster holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Louisiana State University and is also a certified lactation counselor. An expert in the field of infant and maternal nutrition, she began writing professionally in 2005 and has been featured in many nationally acclaimed magazines.

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