Carolyn Hax: How to Handle Fast Talkers Who Never Listen


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: How do you deal with people who talk fast and never seem interested in listening? They interrupt nonstop. I can’t even get a whole sentence out. These are all the people who are precious to me, have a lot of advice and wisdom, and care about my happiness.

disrupted: Some options:

1. For interruptions: [Whoa gesture] “Wait, I wasn’t done.”

2. Let them finish their interruption, then say, “I was just talking. can i finish

3. [Whoa gesture] “Sorry, I can’t keep up. You’re talking too fast for me.

4. Stay quiet until the person notices. When you see your moment to jump into the conversation, don’t take it. If they ask you why you’re silent, say “I can’t keep up” or “You were rolling, so I let you go.” If they never ask or don’t even notice, pretend it’s story time and enjoy the rest.

Each option is more effective without rancor. These are people you value and want in your life. You’re trying to fix it, not exploit it.

Calm assertiveness is difficult and uncomfortable until you get into the habit. And it may seem weaker than pushing yourself into dynamics hard but, counterintuitively, it’s stronger to maintain your own tone and rhythm under pressure.

Last thing: Be realistic about your relationships with your switches. If you’re connected by the quality of your company, then it might be time to rethink. But if he’s doing it for more transactional reasons (it’s a mentor, an older relative, a helpful neighbor, etc.), then you may decide in advance to tolerate, forgive, ignore, or discard more of his bad habits than you might otherwise. , because you’re not in this for an easy relationship.

  • I have a family member who interrupts me frequently. For the past few years, I’ve been saying, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. This is always met with silence, every time, then they say, “No, go on.” win win
  • My mother in law is a constant switch. My mom just keeps telling her story or finishing her thought, only stopping once she’s finished. After a few words, my mother-in-law stops interrupting and seems to realize her mistake.
  • People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder often interrupt because we’re trying to show that we’re paying attention by interjecting with “Me too!” example, then sometimes we get carried away and we can’t shut up. We can also be so afraid of forgetting what we want to say that we have to say it right now, or else it will be gone forever.
  • For all of you who are bothered by “switches”, be sure to give people a chance to speak. It seems to me that many people who don’t like to be interrupted are people who don’t let others interfere. If a “switch” is your friend, truly your friend, have a little compassion for his conversational style.
  • I am afflicted with this. I won’t make excuses for it. I know it’s wrong, and I wish I hadn’t. I am working on it. I’ve been practicing counting to three when I think someone is done talking to make sure I’m not interrupting them. My plea: Please do not assume malice. Many of us are excited or passionate or maybe we struggle with social anxiety.

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