The Recipe for Ending the Endless Conversation

Some people have no problem ending a conversation.  Once they deem the conversation over they walk away, slam down the phone, turn back to their computer, or do any number of things that the more genteel among us might consider rude.  And most of the time, rude is bad.

So if you’re trying to keep Rude You under control, how can you extract yourself from a meeting or business conversation with someone who might not be done talking, even though you’re done listening?  You follow this simple recipe.

Here’s the scenario.

A colleague drops by.  You have plenty to do, but you decide this interruption warrants your time so you engage.  After talking for a while you make a decision and prepare to make that mental shift back to what you were doing.

But the other person doesn’t disengage.  They are the dreaded “DHB” (Dead-Horse Beater).  They love rehashing a decision that’s already made.  They like beating dead horses.  It’s fun for them.

You could be rude if you wanted to.  You could start drumming your fingers, start reading emails, pick up a newspaper or fake a grand mal seizure (which, by the way, works).  But you don’t want to do that.  You just want the person to go away.

Next time you’re in that situation try this.  Wait for the person to take a breath (this can take a while — many DHBs are also skilled at the art of talking without breathing).  Be diligent.  When you get your opening, you overtly do something that physically announces that the meeting is over (close your book, stand up, anything) look the person in the eye, smile and say this.

“Great, anything else?”

You’ve now politely punctuated the meeting.  “Great” is code for “OK, we’ve covered that topic and we’re clear on how we’re going to handle it.”  Asking “anything else?” means “don’t you dare say anything else about that prior topic that I am sick of discussing.  We’re done. Go away.”  Just using different words.

Most DHBs understand the code and take their leave.  If they really do have something else to talk about, it will be up to you to determine whether you want to spend time and energy on that topic, and then invest the energy required to punctuate yet another endless conversation.

At which point you will have no one to blame but yourself.


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