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How to deal with people that dominate conversation and talk over others?(84 Posts)
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?
she sounds ghastly. I have run a lot of speaking groups and I have noticed that a lot of this is about eye contact, if you don't make eye contact with someone they cannot dominate....although some characters do just 'steam-roll'...
they get away with it because they are very forceful and are used to getting their own way.
She's sounds awful. Can you arrange a meet up with the nice friends and not include the loud mouth? Really what does anyone get out of it if she's there?
Sorry I can't help. I know a few people like this and they drive me mad. It's so important to them that everyone in the group is listening to them. Whenever anyone else talks, it's accepted that people are split into smaller groups of two or three, but when this type of person talks literally everyone has to listen.
Will anyone on here admit to being this type of person? I would love to speak to someone about why they do it.
I usually find something to pick on which shuts them up. Especially if she's not very PC - easy to challenge then.
Anyone in the group brave enough to tell her to shut up?
I'm afraid I'm rather rude back to these sorts. I carry on talking to my sub-group blind and deaf to big-gob. Hard work though. My sympathies.
I have a couple of acquaintances like this. I simply refuse to go out with them unless there are plenty of other people there to dilute the impact. I arrange smaller get togethers behind their backs, I don't care if that makes me 'orrible.
Nope, no one told her to shut up. We all just lamely sat there listening to her and letting her behave the way she did.
Her names not Claire, is it?
I know two people like this, one I simply avoid, including turning down social invitations where I know she will be there. I won't go and join a group that she is standing with even if that means missing out catching up with good friends.
The other, I do actually like but can only spend limited time with so after a while I avoid eye contact and talk with others who I sense feel the same.
Oh, I am guilty of this. If someone told me to shutup, I would be a) grateful and b) mortified in that order.
I can feel myself doing it... :-(
My husband does this when pissed.
I'm afraid I've lost all manners and now say "Look. Do you want a conversation or a bloody audience?"
You could always try that
But MissVerinder, if you're serious about doing this, why do you do it? Aren't you interested in what anyone else has to say?
HEC is right - if you're with someone like that you're just the audience. In fact some people, if you walk off while they're mid flow, just turn to someone else and continue - it's clear that it doesn't matter who they're talking to.
Don't tell this sort of person to shut up, rein it in etc - they'll likely burst into tears be terribly hurt etc and the rest of the evening will be spent nursing their drama.
Oh I talk far too much and would gladly be told to shut up.
I would probably let them have the first half of the lunch but interrupt as soon as I could find her take a breath by asking another member of the group, by name, a question.
By the evening I would have none of it, no eye contact with her and start my own conversation around me and when she called my name or tries to interrupt I would casually say "yes I know, you have already spoken to us about that this afternoon, I'm now talking with x y z"
Eye contact for a second or two and then back to my conversation.
My DH and my boss are socially inept with alcohol, I've skilled the art of steering social conversation away from turning into a presentation about them
I was out yesterday and had far too much to drink, I was with mners. Really hoping this isn't about me with some details changed
There's always people like this in a larger group. I don't think there is any point in having a go at them about it though. You will be the villain for hurting their feelings! I'd just avoid going out with a large group and just go out with two or three friends.
imperial, I think I want to be part of the conversation and identify with the others. I do say "i'm very sorry, I didn't mean to be so rude and interrupt you" when I do it though.
also I tend to float in and out of conversations which apparently doesn't count as an endearing trait either!
I have an acquaintance/sort of a once friend who is exactly like this - the loud, relentless talking, the "it's all about me" subject matter. I went from cross, to baffled she seems so popular, to just avoiding her - which is a shame, as we have mutual friends. But it got to the nails-on-a-blackboard stage with me; I just couldn't bear it.
My person, I should point out, is actually a nice woman - she means well, her heart's in the right place. I guess it's just an odd sort of lack of social skills, mixed with insecurity maybe? Maybe I should be more tolerant of her.
So is it best to ignore this type of person?
I think I feel disappointed more than anything as I don't see most of these people very often, and was looking forward to catching up with them all and enjoying everyone's company. Instead I feel that we were all forced into listening to this woman's stories, which we'd heard before anyway, and that she essentially ruled the day. I've met people before that are dominant and talk a lot but she was far worse than anyone I've ever come across before.
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.
A sarcy "You really like the sound of your own voice, don't you dear ?" usually has the desired effect.
I can be like this. I don't mind being told to shut up.
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...
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 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 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 ...
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
Have you tried..... 'FOR FUCKS SAKE WILL YOU JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!???' Delivered with a smile, naturally.
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!
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 .
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 .
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?'
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 yours
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!
Her name's not Janet is it?
Do what my husband does and literally fall asleep and start snoring.
new shoes may I ask are you aware when doing it? Or not? What is happening in your head? (Trying to understand friend!)
Do those who say they do this just babble endlessly, or do you actually do what the woman described did - actively demand people's attention and work to maintain it, deliberately preventing any other conversation from starting within a large group? Those are two quite different things.
My friend does that, lottie
It's like the "Friend Show"
I had one friend who did that, it was as if she was a stand-up performer, others could play a part in her performance, if she felt they were adequately in tune with her and allowed it, but she controlled the timing and put down other interventions. She was a control freak / martyr / drama queen in other ways. Massively attention seeking, quite entertaining but ultimately not a good friend.
I babble a lot, eg I'll talk in detail about my children to colleagues or something, before realising they're probably only pretending to be interested & they've glazed over! I wouldn't point at people & demand attention or anything! I sometimes ramble on without Thinkin, then catch myself & think "oh shit!" & have to bit my lips to stop me interrupting any more! It's a trait I really hate! X
what is it about do you think?
Excuse the text style "x", oops!
Not sure, think it may have been rooted in family ishoos, desire to stand out, be in control and a big fish in her own little pond and just being quite self-centred and easily bored.
I'm afraid I've skipped over most of the posts - I promise I'll catch up after this!
I do it sometimes. I can't explain why; I'm worse when drunk, but it's not the drink that prompts it and I've never quite figured out what does. If you're lucky I'll catch myself and shut up (I can be quiet, too!) but I really appreciate friends who know when to tell me to pipe down.
Perhaps it's easier for me than for
nicer other people, but the usual way to deal with an own-voice-lover is to interrupt. You have to do it quite loudly and hope someone's quick enough to pick up your new strand - and you may have to do it repeatedly. People who grew up in large, talkative families tend to be more comfortable interrupting. Even if you're the timid sort, it's better than suffering collectively, so give it a shot
Some folks have something wrong with their wiring and are completely oblivious. Sadly, there's not much you can do about them except avoid in future.
I once knew a whole family who talked really, really, really loudly. You could hear them from miles off, and they were completely oblivious. Lovely people, but talked at 200 decibels.
My sis had to tell me on a recent trip to visit her in London that you can only whisper on the buses. Not sure what she was trying to say!
Anyhow, not quite the same issue, but anyhow ...
What do you do if a person in question is your VERY close relative? She is not mean or anything just cannot control her talking. Talks all the time, never takes a deep breath and listens to others. It is almost painful being around her, and no, I cannot avoid her.
Ooh, some great posts here. Glad I caught up! Keep them coming, please, I'm learning good stuff
^^ see, I just made the thread about me, didn't I?
Mostly, I think I'm like Newshoes. I feel I really have to make a contribution to the conversation and then massively overdo it. There is definitely some overhang from the big family thing, too. Not only did we have to battle for airtime, but had a controlling parent who dictated long periods of silence. We were also expected to engage in competitive conversation at mealtimes - it was intended as a kind of debating practice, and we were all good in school debates, but that doesn't do much for one's light chat skills.
Thinking about it, the suppressed silences meant we'd all go mad when exuberant speech was allowed but had little exposure to the ebb & flow of normal conversation. So maybe, when I'm on a roll, I'm revelling in the freedom of being able to say what's in my head --> inner-child takeover! Hmm, I could work on that ...
From being a mainstay of the school debating club and a wannabe actress, I went on to a career in catering and then to sales. I was basically paid a small fortune to get people's attention, hold it and persuade them to do what I wanted. I'm sure this led to my grandstanding outside of work, too: using words to dominate can become a habit. Since most of my friends were in similar jobs, we all did it. No wonder we were always the liveliest table at restaurants! People must have hated us!
I hadn't given much thought to how the childhood led to the work, which led to dysfunctional conversational habits. I'm not being funny about helpful replies here; I really am learning something! Thank you for starting your thread, Galaxy!
liveoutloud - Do what television interviewers do: "Can I just stop you there ..."
My Inner Jeremy Paxman is a tremendous asset I'm going to introduce him to my Conversationally Repressed Inner Child!
lottie (ignores garlic - JOKE), yes, family stuff I think. My close friend who is the worst, who LITERALLY has to talk about herslef all the time or feels uncomfortable and ignored, is seeking love and attention that she didn't get as a child. But of course it's self-defeating, because she is driving people mad.
It has affected me lately because we are often together in various social groupings and because I have long since given up attempting to speak when she is there, new people think me cold and unfriendly as I sit in silence....!! aaagggggggghhhhhhh
i do this a bit i think, particularly the talking over i think it's because i had so many siblings - had to cut in to be heard. but that's no excuse now i'm a grown up... i suspect it's also to do with finding social stuff slightly overwhelming, talk or flight instead of fight or flight, iyswim
Hully ... <talks over everyone else> ... Any chance of getting a conversation going about conversation? If no-one had ever done this
to for me, I'd be even worse than I am!
Lots of people haven't ever thought about how conversations work.
DM is a one-woman monologue artiste. Not happy unless she is in charge of a conversation, interrupts, rarely asks about others.
I give my rather reserved dc 50p for everytime resist her interrupting what they're saying continue till they've finished their story/anecdote whatever.
I don't want them to learn from their grandmother that it's okay to accept being squashed in a social situation. Nice little earner for them too!
Oo-er, that grin looks scary in its santa hat, doesn't it?
I don't think there is any excuse for doing all the talking, softly or loudly, and taking over all conversation. If you know you do this - just, uhhhh, don't! Stop yourself. Stop talking. Listen. Ask about other people.
To the people who say they are shy or nervous - I am too (though got so much better in last five years because of my job where I have to meet new people at functions etc all the time) but it is a) easier to hide nerves by asking about other people and b) it is far more courteous and people will like you!
I also do the 'sorry X what were you saying' if the Big Gob interrupts or I go and get a drink/do a wee/talk to someone else/talk quietly to another member of the group.
<am I allowed to write 'gavel' or is that totally illlegal on here now?>
Well, using your gavel on a discussion about people rudely refusing to listen to other people's views would be a bit counter-productive, Proud
Garlic, I have those all the time...convos about convos. She talks all the time about how she is really really working on her listening and everyone interrupts don't they? And anyway and another thing and....
I agree with 'don't', so in that sense accept your gavel.
But...! Conversation about conversation, that is interesting (see I do like talking). Have people really not thought about how conversation works? I know it mostly comes naturally but it is interesting - or maybe I've spent far too long sitting in meetings, noticing how people talk and whether it gains attention and support. Not the same as social conversation but not entirely different.
So, I'll start, with this.
The most common mistake people make in conversation is to leap from 'I know something about that' to saying it, without pausing to consider if it is interesting, relevant or moves the discussion forward.
In a social sense this leads to the phenomenon of 'the bloke who tells you things' (but never asks questions about you) and 'the woman who has experienced that' (and is more interested in telling you the same old story again, than seeking to understand why you mentioned the issue and what your point or dilemma is) and, in a work sense to the 'serial illustrator' (who can always find another example to talk about but cannot focus on the purpose or desired outcome of the discussion).
So, the skill of self-editing is valuable. It is amazing how many conversations are just a sequence of related anecdotes and that can be fine but it can also be frustratingly pointless and unfulfilling.
MIND YOU lottie, I am genuinely interested in what people say and do tend to ask a lot of questions to get to the nub...and guess what? I get accused of making other people reveal themselves and not saying much about myself...
damned if you do etc
Do you Hully, could you say a bit more about how you think that came about?
I was going to say that, for the less naturally domineering, learning to play the 'host' role in a conversation, keeping it flowing by taking the lead where necessary, is just as important and difficult as not talking for the chatty. It's something I've had to learn to do in groups (can talk endlessly 1 to 1) and recognise when telling a story about myself might be just the thing to keep things moving.
I think it's because mostly I don't need to talk about myself, when I go out/talk to other people it's because I want to be taken OUT of my own head iyswim, so I'm interested in what they think, not in talking about what I think, I already know what I think, I'd rather hear soemthing new and have something fresh to think about.
I will talk about muyself if asked, but it doesn't greatly interest me.
Should add that I can absolutely do the tell funny stories and entertain thing too, and often do.
Whereas many people want to share their latest thoughts, gain most satisfaction from being heard and see others as an audience. I admit I've had 'conversations' I've come away from with nothing, as i was wrapped up with sharing my thoughts and didn't take that much notice of what others said. Very unsatisfying, as really, I think making connections is what it's all about.
Thing is, if everyone could take the 'host / facilitator' role, knowing this is not the same as making it about them but being willing to give of themselves to achieve it, situations like the OP's shouldn't arise.
My gavel didn't even makes sense <am bit of a twat>
I am also tres funny and entertaining can I just say!! I am just shy-ish with people I don't know in a non-work scenario. In work mode I am a social whirlwind and a hand pumping maniac <more twattage>
Proud, that last comment really makes me wonder what you do for a living.
Snurk, do you do much hand-pumping?
I don't actually know what's wrong with me today. I do apologise.
It's that whirlwind, Proud, it's messed about with your hand pump
I've known several people like this over the years and I'm afraid I found them intolerable and refuse to socialise with them or spend any time with them these days
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