© 2004 Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.

Do you want to politely take control of a conversation with someone who won’t stop talking?

You know the type. Instead of talking in sentences or paragraphs, they speak in whole pages. By the time they’ve finished detailing their final points you've long since forgotten the beginnings of the conversations.

These five tips will put you in the driver’s seat—Immediately.

  1. Interrupt with an obvious attempt to demonstrate that you've been listening. Say, "Let me see if I understand you. You were saying... “Follow this with a brief summary of what you have heard.

Often people keep talking because they don't get any signal that they have been heard. The paradox is they can't get the signal as long as they keep talking.

  1. Take responsibility (even if you don't deserve it) for your inability to follow the conversation. "I'm sorry, I think I got lost. Could you bullet point that for me?"

Someone who is talking endlessly may be thinking out loud and forgotten his or her audience. A request to take care of you it is a reminder of your presence.

  1. Interrupt with a question. "Excuse me, could you please tell me briefly how what you just said is related to the problem we’re trying to solve?"

A frequent answer to this question is, “I was just getting to that," followed by the information you need to continue the conversation.

  1. If you are in a social situation and won’t risk a sexual harassment suit, touch the talker lightly on the arm or shoulder.

When you suspect someone is talking just to get attention, touch provides that attention in a powerful way.

  1. Do something unexpected. Drop your papers, tip your chair over, hand the speaker a glass of water, and take advantage of the break to make your own point.

New relationship book helps you have important conversations that build working relationships.. more

Laurie Weiss, Ph.D., author of Dare To Say It!, is an internationally known executive coach, psychotherapist, and author. For more simple secrets for turning difficult conversations into amazing opportunities for cooperation and success, visit