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Gracefully ending boring/pointless conversations

Hi all,

Context

A good friend of mine with whom I talk a lot sometimes goes off on long, irrelevant topics. For instance, the other night he started talking about the difference between the work environment in the UK and Germany. I have no interest in this topic at all and there is no benefit for either of us to discuss it. He presented his experience in great detail. Because he was putting so much passion and I didn't want to offend him by saying I don't care, I passively accepted the topic and just occasionally added that's interesting or that doesn't make sense.

I think one solution to this is for me to be more assertive. However, I can't find anything to say except: Hey X, it looks like you know a lot about this topic but unfortunately I don't know much and I'm not interested. Let's talk about something else or go to sleep. This seems quite inconsiderate so I wouldn't say it.

Question

This situation happens to me with different people. Furthermore, I see many other people who are in the same situation as I: trying to escape a conversation but not knowing how.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?

Oh yeah, the guy who doesn't get it that he's boring everyone around.

I've met a few of these, and it actually seems like a small thing, but it's really unfortunate in life not to understand those basic social dynamics.
Some of these guys end up with little or no friends at all, or even with no real connections at all with anyone, and never realize why.

IN GROUPS

If this happens in a group, it's easier.

As he speak, you can just ask other random people in the group: have you ever been to Germany? That opens the converation, shows that you "get it", makes you th leader, and cuts the thread off and move in another direction.

If he hijacks the thread again, then you do it again.

A few times should be enough to finally kill his chokehold on the conversation.

Sometimes, in groups, with people who really don't get it, I've been very direct and with a joke I've said it clearly, like:

Man, you're awesome, I think you're a great storyteller, let's also hear from these other people now

And if they started doing it again,

I turned into a joke. Then you can just start looking at the other people and everyone will laugh.
Of course, you don't want to laugh at him.
So you can add some friendly touch to him. As long as the joke is not mean, but more like "boy, there he goes again, isn't he a talk-lover" and you rebuild rapport it should be fine.
Never anyone got angry.

You can then also leave the group, and the people in the group will soon escape and come talking to you, and then you also have a story in common, almost insta-friend.

ONE ON ONE

You can also use the same method in 1:1, thread-cutting a few times to send the message "I don't care about that".

OR, like you say, assertiveness is the way to go.
Your sentence isn't to bad, a slightly better way:

You: Hey X, it looks like you really know a lot about this. Thing is, I don't, and I'm not going to work in either place. How about topic Y? Would you like to talk about Y?

See the difference here?

The difference is that in the first sentence you take full control and take his power away. With his one, you giving him back some power.
The first one was more difficult to say because it's a bit of a social slap.

Even if with the next topic he starts doing the same, you set an important precedent, both to him, and to yourself, and that precedent says: conversation is a two-ways street, my enjoyment also matters.

bluesky has reacted to this post.
bluesky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Wow, thank you Lucio.

You: Hey X, it looks like you really know a lot about this. Thing is, I don't, and I'm not going to work in either place. How about topic Y? Would you like to talk about Y?

For one on one, the touch you added although small, made all the difference. I didn't realise you should also give power back in these situations, and in this way you can appease the other side as well.

For group chats, thanks for linking to being the moderator in group conversations. I understand now that if you want to be a good conversationalist, it pretty much falls under your responsibility/leadership to address blockages in the flow of conversation.

 

Lucio Buffalmano and ZenDancer have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoZenDancer

Cheers bluesky, give it a try next time, let us know how it went 🙂

For group chats, thanks for linking to being the moderator in group conversations. I understand now that if you want to be a good conversationalist, it pretty much falls under your responsibility/leadership to address blockages in the flow of conversation.

Yeah, exactly.

The good news is, group conversations and dynamics are also great occasions to get an immediate boost in status with pretty much every individual who's present. So, in a way, it's a great opportunity to broadcast your value.

ZenDancer and bluesky have reacted to this post.
ZenDancerbluesky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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