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How to deal with people that dominate conversation and talk over others?

(84 Posts)
Galaxycounters Sun 02-Dec-12 17:11:02

Yesterday I went on a day/night out for a friend's hen day/night. There were 10 of us that went. I'm friends with them all but not good friends.

Two that went are very, very loud dominant characters. One in particular is extremely loud, talks constantly and expects full attention of everyone in the group every time she opens her mouth, which was extremely draining. We met up initially at lunchtime and had lunch as a group and for the whole of the lunch (90 mins) she talked and expected full attention of the group, in a very loud voice, talking about things about her and her life. No one else could get a word in edgeways. The other loud girl did sometimes get to speak but she'd usually totally cut off anyone that tried to speak and carry on talking, so in the end we all gave up. I tried a couple of times to make conversation in a little sub group with the 2 either side of me and she'd start looking at us all, saying our names, or pointing at us like she was directly talking to us and no one else so it felt rude to talk.

We did an activity in the afternoon, which was fine as we were in pairs/small groups and it was easy to avoid her, although she was VERY loud. Then in the evening we had another meal, during which she was even worse than lunchtime. We must have been in the restaurant for 2.5 hours and she talked the entire time. She had had a lot of alcohol and spoke again about things she'd told us in the morning at lunchtime, and again no one else could get a word in edgeways. If any of us spoke in a small group she'd just dominate the conversation and try to drag us back into listening. The few occasions anyone else did manage to talk she'd turn it back round onto her. I didn't hear her ask anyone else a single question about themselves, it was all about her.

I'm so cross. I feel she ruined the entire day tbh. I found her speeches very boring, she isn't very politically correct and I would imagine has caused a bit of offence.

How is it best to deal with people like that? Why do people get away with that kind of behaviour?

Galaxycounters Sun 02-Dec-12 22:35:30

I tried the ignoring route, Pretzel, as I didn't want to ruin my friend's hen party by making a fuss or saying anything that might look rude, and I guess that any challenging of that type of person would result in a messy scene. She may possibly be at something I'm going to next Saturday night, but I am determined she will not be dominating my night, and I plan to stay as far away from her as possible, even if it means taking frequent 'loo breaks' every time she comes over to talk to me! I really can't face listening to her stories yet again.

FlorentinePogen Sun 02-Dec-12 22:47:46

A sarcy "You really like the sound of your own voice, don't you dear ?" usually has the desired effect.

stargirl1701 Sun 02-Dec-12 22:52:59

I can be like this. I don't mind being told to shut up. grin

PurplePidjChickIsNotTheMessiah Sun 02-Dec-12 22:53:24

Perhaps if she cuts someone off you could interrupt Mrs Rude with "I'm sorry, X, I didn't quite catch that?" to give them a chance to finish.

Or, "Just a sec, Mrs Rude, I was just talking to Y" as if she were an over-excited 8yo...

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Mon 03-Dec-12 06:28:12

I don't think it is best to ignore this type of person, tbh. If someone has a trait which is so annoying that people don't want to spend time with them, but nobody says anything for fear of hurting their feelings, then they don't ever get that wake up call they need in order to consider changing!

So people avoid them, or feel pissed off with them - which they pick up on, leading to them feeling MORE anxious/less confident - leading to perhaps an escalation of the behaviour...

Whereas if you decide that you're ok with being the villain of the piece grin they have the information they need to understand why there appears to be a bad vibe and to decide whether or not they want to do anything about it.

I am crap socially. I work to a formula that has been taught to me by my husband. It's the 1:2:1 method grin say one thing, ask two things, say one thing.

For every one thing you say that focuses on you - ask two questions / say two things that focus on the other person.

It's like a little dance . 1, 2, 1. 1, 2, 1. 1,2,1 ... grin

RobotLover68 Mon 03-Dec-12 07:19:13

I like that HECT

Bornonxmasday Mon 03-Dec-12 07:33:03

I am like this but not to the extent of holding and audience or talking over others.

I realise if no one else talks I just keep talking, I am getting better and feel I have to concentrate on having a conversation. I use too many words to say what I want to say basically. I catch myself some times interrupting and stop and say sorry. I am mortified that when I realise I have been talking and not asked someone a pertinent question.

hecate is right I do get quite paranoid about people avoiding me re neighbours etc. I still seem to have plenty friends and get invited out etc but it something which is an issue I feel I want to improve.

I like the idea say one thing, ask two things, say one thing. This is simple and easy to follow. I'm going to try it.

But then I have made a career where talking has been a central key aspect.

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Mon 03-Dec-12 09:18:00

Thanks. grin

It has served me well. Before it, I was useless. Now, people see that I am someone who is interested in them.

People like that.

GreatUncleEddie Mon 03-Dec-12 09:24:34

Op i think the strangest thing about your situation is that the other nine of you all shut up and listened to her. Why did that happen do you think? Did no one talk amongst themselves?

Stinkypoos Mon 03-Dec-12 09:39:20

I can be a little bit domineering in small groups. Sometimes it seems to be me doing most of the talking and I butt in. I don't think I'm as bad as the person on the hen day but it is something I definitely do and I am trying to change.

I don't like awkward silences. The silences can be embarrassing and I talk to fill it in. I say rubbish and I wish I could zip my mouth shut.

I always get put next to the people at weddings/funerals that are difficult to get on with or am asked to welcome new people at work and help them settle in. It's nice to be asked but not all the time.

I do interrupt others, I generally notice and say sorry for butting in. I occasionally want to show off with my witty comments or I think they've been talking too much and the conversation is dragging on a bit or just doesn't interest me (how rude is that!)

I get impatient when the same point is being endlessly discussed with no resolution - when everyone is saying virtually the same things again and again and I just want a decision and to get on to the next point.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 09:49:04

You ask why people get away with that kind of behaviour.
It is because other people let them, or they have been told already, but refuse to change or moderate behaviour.

To me, speaking out in public or private to the person would be determined by a number of factors.
If you are just a guest or dont see that person very often I would let it go.
But if say,a friend of mine was getting worse, or say a work colleague who you have to see most days did this, I would say something. In private at first, or even with someone else to back you up to point out the same thing.
Sometimes a person like this may not fully realise what they are doing, or quite how they are coming across to others.

HullyEastergully Mon 03-Dec-12 09:58:07

YY greeneyed. Half the time is spent listening to them go on and on, the other half consoling them for their tremendous upset at having it pointed out...

I have a very close friend who talks incessantly, doesn't listen, and interrupts everyone. I want to kill her. I do. I want to.

When we are with other friends, one of them will say oh, hully, whay happened re XYZ? And she'll say, You didn't tell me about that, and be all hurt, and I want to shout BECAUSE YOU DON'T FUCKING LISTEN SO WHAT'S THE POINT?

and breathe.

Thistledew Mon 03-Dec-12 10:02:14

If they start talking over you before you finish saying what you want to, just keep talking. It is such a trope of conventional politeness to stop talking when someone else butts in that it will feel very awkward for the person trying to interrupt and will probably cause them to stop. For maximum effect get several of your friends to do the same.

HullyEastergully Mon 03-Dec-12 10:10:38

I do that Thistle (with a friend who isn't quite as bad as friend 1), but you're right, it feels very rude and unnatural not to let her interrupt and then tell yet another great long dull story...

Galaxycounters Mon 03-Dec-12 10:21:47

GreatUncleEddie, I could kick myself for just sitting there, I really could, but I just didn't want to cause a scene and be thought of as "the one that made a scene at X's hen day". Plus although everyone else looked a little uncomfortable no one else said anything. The dominating woman was so loud and it genuinely was very very hard to break away from being forced to listen to her. Some of her speeches went on for 20 minutes or more. 20 minutes of us just sitting there having to listen to drivel! At the evening meal I almost phoned DH and asked him to come and collect me early.

AfterEightMintyy Mon 03-Dec-12 11:15:17

There are two non-stop talkers/interrupters in a group I go out with regularly. They are also the ones who both get slurring drunk and need to be taken home. Every time.

So now the rest of us try and engineer it so that they sit next to each other and basically by about 10pm they are talking exclusively to each other and right over each other, happy as larry. Its nice, actually, because they have become very good friends and do a lot socially with their husbands and children. They have a lot in common! Their conversations are hilarious to observe, mind.

digerd Mon 03-Dec-12 12:30:31

At our family birthday/Xmas dinners, my bil has the loudest voice. When I manage to say 1 sentance, he tells me to shut up. When a small group of us women are talking together, I can't hear what they are saying, due to his voice being so loud and constant. Nobody tells him to shut up.

PretzelTime Mon 03-Dec-12 12:41:40

So now the rest of us try and engineer it so that they sit next to each other and basically by about 10pm they are talking exclusively to each other and right over each other, happy as larry
That's hilarious! Good it can work out like that.

digerd, sounds like someone really should tell him that - he already did it to you when you said one thing!

If these people do it regularly, couldn't you be ready with some responses?

E.g. digered - BIL, You shut up, you're loud and obnoxious and we're bored of hearing you.

Galaxy - Friend, maybe we could talk about someone other than yourself for a change? I think we know everything there is to know about you now.

After the stunned silence, I bet everyone else would cheer you on!

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Mon 03-Dec-12 15:15:56

Have you tried..... 'FOR FUCKS SAKE WILL YOU JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!???' Delivered with a smile, naturally. smile

lottiegarbanzo Mon 03-Dec-12 16:10:42

That sounds a really bad case. The tricky bit is you need a willing accomplice to tackle it e.g. You could turn to someone else and say 'oh, you had a similar experience didn't you' or 'what happened with your...', so giving them the floor. They have to be willing to take it though. This works better than just talking yourself because you are inviting someone to talk, who has not interrupted, while showing an interest in the loud person's topic.

Often, I think this happens because people have a different tolerance for silence and a different idea of the normal length of a pause. Most of us know pauses are essential conversational punctuation, allowing a new voice to come in and actively use them in this way. Some people find them uncomfortable and babble.

Other people are thick-skinned, attention-seeking divas who think they're more interesting than anyone else!

BerylStreep Mon 03-Dec-12 16:40:49

With most of my friends I can't get a word in edgeways. In fact thinking about it, almost all.

There is one in particular, who dominates the conversation, and labours a point to death, but she is a kind person, and I don't really mind too much. My DH can't stand it though.

Another, a relative, who is a bit of a frenemy, is just dreadful, very insecure, competitive, and spends her whole time trying to establish she is better than everyone else, without anyone being able to get a word in. When her child was experiencing speech delay, she was furious that the SALT suggested it was because the poor child never had a chance to speak grin.

Another friend is just hilarious, and entertainment value - she is so so funny, I don't mind, because I am laughing so much.

So I think there can be good domineering, awful domineering, and not mind too much domineering. I wonder why I am attracted to people like this?

Anyway, what with all this experience, you would think I could give advice, but I can't. Sometimes I just interrupt and talk over them. Other times I just use it as an opportunity to drink a bit more and get sloshed blush.

The funny thing, is that all my friends describe me as being really laid back and chilled. I don't think I am at all, it's just they never really see me express an opinion.

Hecate, I like your 1-2-1. Wasn't it Bette Midler who said 'anyway, less about me. What do you think of me?'

Lavenderhoney Mon 03-Dec-12 16:59:02

What did the bride to be say? Wasn't it supposed to be all about her? And wasn't a mil or dm there? They are not usually backward in coming forward!

I would make sure you are not sat at a table with her at the wedding!

I would have ignored the pointing and singling out as not listening though, but if she was drunk I can see you might be worried she would kick off. She probably thinks she is the life and soul of the party and everyone would be sat in silence if she wasn't talking. Or she has terrible nerves and can't stop!

I don't know how to deal with them without wandering off to see a friend or go to the loo. Being stuck at a table is very hard. You coud have said " oh, let's all have 5 mins each to say how we know the bride, no be quiet, you've had yourssmile

Newshoesplease Mon 03-Dec-12 17:32:07

I'm awful for doing this, my friends say "shut up new shoes, you're doing it again!!" & I blush, then shut up. It's something I have to consciously curb- hugely annoying, I agree!

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Mon 03-Dec-12 17:44:05

Her name's not Janet is it?

Do what my husband does and literally fall asleep and start snoring.

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