Run In With ... "The Talker"

A couple of days ago at work, one of the couple of people at work who just loves to talk popped into my office to talk about something that they had created in the past that was loosely similar to what I do at work, plus a lot of other added detail.

I’m a friendly guy, so I try to listen, even when I don’t really have any interest in what’s being talked about. I sometimes get the beginnings of a mild panic attack when running into one of “The Talkers”, especially if it’s not in passing so I can “get going”. It’s going to keep going forever! I have to keep paying attention! What is he even saying!?

It felt like it went on for half an hour, though surely only a few minutes. :joy: I looked at him and made conversational noises and responses, but I was almost in physical pain fighting to keep looking at him instead of turning back to what I was doing it just running away. I was fidgety. Should have grabbed my fidget off my desk. Hopefully I’ll remember to do that next time.

Does anyone else struggle when caught by “The Talker”?

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I’ll admit that sometimes I am “The Talker”, and I’m not very good at picking up on the subtle cues that many people use to try to end a conversion.

One boss I had a great relationship with had a very simple strategy for this. (Now: he had a “my door is always open” philosophy, so he would consistently pause his work if one of his employees came to his door.) When I’d knock on his office door and asked if I could talk to him about something, he’d say “Sure, but I’ve just got a minute; I have to get back to this” [waving a hand at his computer screen, or some papers on his desk]. If it was something that was going to take more than a couple of minutes, I’d give him the overview and he would schedule a meeting. (If it was a matter that couldn’t wait, he would save his document and set it aside and make the time for me… He even delayed a meeting with his own but by a few minutes for me once.)

He was also very personable, but was disciplined about keeping to work matters fortnite meetings and taking about personal things at other times (like during the time before a meeting starts, or at the end of the day when our work was done but the day was not).

In such a simple manner, he demonstrated two things very clearly: 1) his work is important, and 2) his employees are more important to him.

The person who is “The Talker” might be an Inattentive ADHD sort of person, like me, whose thoughts just keep pinging from one topic to the next. Giving me a clear time boundary, by saying “sure, but just a minute” or by scheduling a meeting, actually helps me to keep my focus on the topic.


There are different kinds is “Talkers”.

My dad is an extrovert, a true people-person, who loves to talk. He’s much better about social cues than I am, so he’s better at moving on when the other person is done with the conversation. Unlike me, he can stay on one topic.


A different boss I had was the self-important kind of “Talker”. He would schedule a 30 minute meeting with me, tell me it would only take 20 minutes, talk 45 minutes or more, spend less than five minutes talking about what the meeting was actually about, and only let me talk for 2 minutes the whole time. He did not respect his subordinates’ time, didn’t understand our work and our how much actual time it took to get things done. I felt like a captive in his meetings if I didn’t have anything scheduled immediately after. (He’s moved on now, gone from the organization…and I think the team is more productive now, but I’ve moved on to a new team.)

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That’s a great piece of advice! Set a time boundary at the beginning of the conversation. I will have to try to use that in the future. I try to give anyone who wants to talk to me time, but the longer a conversation, or a even a meeting, goes, especially if I’m mostly just a listener, the harder it becomes.

Thanks again for the advice!

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I find myself in both of those positions sometimes. Women with ADHD… we’re known to never shut up. I’ve actually theorized that the myth that women talk a lot (a myth which now boasts much evidence to the contrary,) was probably projected and dreamt up by guys who ran into the 5-10% of women with ADHD and decided we represent every woman ever.

But beside that somewhat irrelevant point, I think you’ve already been given excellent advice. Advice I also intend to follow. I’m just not sure what to do about when ‘the talker,’ is your mother, who is probably the one who gave you the ADHD😓 Its just not possible to put a time limit on how much my mom talks, especially knowing that some day I’ll wish she was still here to talk me into a coma. I need some tips on how to stay focused lol.

But sometimes I cheat in conversation too. Like if someone is just taking way too long to finish up what they’re trying to say to me, I might “accidentally,” drop something, get a “random” headache, or keep changing the topic until they no longer follow and give up… People would be absolutely astounded by how much of my clumsiness and spastic nature is just an act. That’s probably not good advice, but no one has ever really gotten outwardly offended over it or been mean to me. Some gentle conversational manipulation in order to preserve my sanity is sometimes necessary🤷‍♀️

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with being honest either. I’ve had to tell people that I can’t focus on what they’re saying to me, or that I completely zoned out half the conversation ago, or that something else has my attention that I can’t just snap out of, and it’s typically taken well. Being honest about not having the bandwidth to handle a long conversation about a topic that doesn’t interest you isn’t a bad thing. Some people might take this as you saying that you don’t care, but if you didn’t care you’d just ignore them instead of saying anything. There’s lots of ways to get out of a conversation you don’t like, so whatever angle you’re good at working without offending, go with that.

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Yeah, my mind wanders in meetings, particularly when they’re discussing all business items. I used to work in an IT Help Desk, and for each new topic I could honestly ask myself “how will this impact my customers and my work.” That helped me stay engaged.

Then again, there are always those people who take twenty minutes to say something they could have said in two… And I don’t mean the chatty kinds of folks (like many ADHDers are). --No, these that the self-important “I have the floor, so I’m going to milk this for all it’s worth to prove that I’m more important that you” kinds of folks.–

I once sat in a required meeting about the launch of a new service. A presentation was made by four people. The three high-ranking Project Co-sponsors didn’t have to speak, but they filled most of the time. The one person actually responsible for the service, providing all of the necessary information, got ten minutes of that hour to speak.
… I think she and all the attendees would have preferred a fifteen minute video conference, rather that having to sit through all that
puffery.

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I AM “the Talker”, so I’m sorry for anyone that has to sit through my speeches and rants :joy:

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