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Passive-Aggressive Techniques to Handle People Who Love to Talk

March 20, 2016 1 comment

Some people just love to talk; when you’re not in the mood to entertain such people, it can be very annoying.  In reflecting on how one could possibly deal with such annoyances, I’ve thought of some passive-aggressive techniques that can potentially help cope with such stress, among other things.

Here are some things that I think can be done to deal with people who love to talk when you’re not in the mood for them.

1. Maintain tension by going straight to business.

Some people employ small talk to lighten the mood before the start of a difficult meeting, as doing so helps to lessen the tension.  Be curt in your replies.  Don’t volunteer to share anything from your end or provide comments.  Be dismissive with comments like “Yes, that’s nice; can we start now?” or something to that effect.  This will obviously heighten the tension, but at least you make the point that you don’t want to waste any more time – just get straight to the business at hand.

2. Ask the person to repeat himself.

Some people have a bad habit of asking a question, and then following it up with long-winding side-comments or opinions, so much so that it’s easy to forget that he’s actually asking something from you.  If he really wanted to hear your opinion then he’d shut up as soon as the question is asked to give you the chance to answer, but it seems like he just loves to hear himself speak, or something.

Call him out: “Sorry, your question is very long and I actually lost the thought of what you wanted to ask.  Can you please restate your question in a straight-forward and concise way?”  And if you’re in the mood to risk starting a fight, then follow-up with “With all that you said, were you now able to answer your own question?”

On a side-note: I think there are a few TV journalists who are guilty of this.  When they interview someone, they ask long-winding questions; it seems they’re more interested to hear their own opinions than get the answer of the person they’re interviewing.  I wish these people would just shut up and let their interviewee answer their questions, which is the point of them being interviewed in the first place.

3. Explicitly plead for time to speak.

It’s hard to speak your mind whenever you find yourself in a group discussion with a number of people with dominant personalities.  Typically these people have a tendency to talk over others who aren’t as dominant as they are.  Sometimes it can be entertaining to watch dominant people attempt to talk over each other, especially if each party has a conflicting opinion about something.

If the discussion is happening in person then you can try to plead for time to speak by raising your hand to call attention that you want a chance to speak.  If this is happening online, then you can put a message in the chat window asking “Let me know when I can talk.”  For either case, two things could happen: Either they eventually stop talking and give you a chance to speak, or they ignore you and continue talking anyway, thereby making it obvious that they’re arrogant enough not to care to hear anyone else out; you win in either outcome.

If this is happening in a 1:1 discussion, then let the person talk and talk – and just wait it out.  Don’t even bother to attempt to interject.  When he asks why you haven’t responded yet, or he finally bothers to ask you what you think about what he said, then reply with “I was just waiting for you to finish speaking; can I talk now?”  If you’re in the mood to risk starting a fight, then also comment that “It looks like you were enjoying your monologue, so I didn’t want to stop you.”

4. Subtly fight interruptions.

I absolutely loathe being interrupted when I’m speaking.  Interrupting someone is one of the easiest ways to give offense because it shows you don’t respect the person enough to let him finish speaking.

Frankly, I don’t care who you are.  If you interrupt me while I’m still speaking then I automatically think you’re a JERK.  Interrupting someone who’s still talking sends the message that what you have to say is more important.  Perhaps it might be, but that’s not a reason to cut-off people who also have as much right to share what’s on their mind as you do.  Unless of course you interrupt because you just like to hear yourself talk; in this case you’re a bigger JERK than I originally thought.

When interrupted, you can respond in a few ways.  It helps if you know for a fact that the person you’re speaking to have a tendency to interrupt, so you can prepare in advance.

Approach #1: Answer the interruption – but don’t go back to answering the original question anymore.  This requires some planning: When you begin to reply, immediately state that you have a multi-part answer, and start to give it that way, i.e. “Number 1, blah, blah, blah; Number 2, blah, blah, blah,” etc.  When you’re about to start with the “Number 3” response, then get interrupted, then answer the interruption – but don’t go back to what you were going to say about “Number 3” or anything else thereafter.  Intentionally leave the original question hanging with a partial answer.  If the person was actually paying attention to you, then he’ll notice the awkwardness in the partial answer as a result of his interruption. Resume answering the original question only if you’re asked to do so, otherwise don’t go back to it anymore.

Approach #2: Ignore the interruption outright by acting as if it never happened; continue talking anyway, finishing what you wanted to say.  This will send the message that you can also play the other person’s game: What you have to say is more important than any interruption he makes.

Approach #3: Call him out: “You’re being rude – Please don’t interrupt me, I wasn’t finished with what I wanted to say!”

Speaking for myself, I hate people who interrupt to the point that I try to avoid talking to them as much as possible.  It’s better to prevent the annoyance from occurring than have to deal with it when it’s there.

5. Use talkative people to your advantage.

I’ve seen this work in a group discussion involving many people who love to talk.  A question is posed to me.  Someone who loves to talk knows the answer, and so speaks up and answers the question instead.  This is probably the only scenario where I don’t mind keeping quiet.  If someone knows the answer and is excited enough to provide it then I don’t stop him; he saves me the effort and trouble of answering.  Alternatively, you can ask the talkative person who knows the answer what he thinks of the question, and so he takes care of doing your job.

6. Apply non-verbal aggression.

If the discussion is happening in person then consciously use body language to show disinterest and / or disdain.  Look bored or look like your mind is somewhere else; give the feeling that you’re just providing the minimum amount of attention required at that meeting.  Sit like you’re ready to get up and go at any time.  Or sit back with arms crossed (signaling defensiveness and resistance) and a tense expression on your face.

Your options are limited when the discussion happens online, but you have options nevertheless.  Voice inflection can set the tone you want to convey.  Saying “I’m just waiting for you to finish speaking; can I talk now?” with a hint of annoyance that’s not too much such that you can plausibly deny it, should work.  It takes a bit of practice, but if you find yourself in an annoying situation often enough, then you’ll be able to master it.

For either scenario, you can also apply the minimum amount of attention required by doing something else, which ironically can actually be something productive, if you want.  For example, you can reply to e-mails while someone enjoys hearing himself speak; if he’s copied, then later on he’ll see that you weren’t paying full attention to him because while he was talking, you were busy doing something else, which happens to be work.  It will be a harsher slap in the face if you post stuff on social media, and he happens to see your activity coinciding at the time when he was busy talking.  And for what it’s worth, you could also use the time to take a break and just let your mind wander elsewhere – but not too far off since you still need to apply a minimum amount of attention; you might actually get some interesting, useful, and creative ideas during the time you’ve zoned out.

7. Either tell the person to shut up – or make him.

If all else fails, then do to them what they’re doing to you.  Explicitly state that you’re interrupting / stopping them; talk over them if necessary.  But if you do this, then be sure you actually have something good to say to make it worthwhile for them to shut up.  “I’m sorry but I’m stopping you there because what you’re saying is not going to work / it’s against our overall objectives, etc.”  If necessary, then also call them out: “Your arguments are long-winding; you’re not going straight to the point.”

Most of the discussions I have happen online these days.  If (1) this scenario applies to you, (2) the mute function is available for you to use, and (3) you’re in the mood to risk starting a fight, then mute the other person.  “I put you on mute because I need to say something, so listen up.”  Alternatively, if you don’t feel like doing that, and you’re annoyed as hell with the other person who keeps on talking, then just drop from the call.

If the discussion is happening in person then explicitly state that you want to talk; if that’s not likely to happen then excuse yourself and walk out.

Our time is limited, and for this reason we should go straight to the point.  If that means explicitly asking someone to shut up – or making them shut up – then that’s what needs to be done.

At the end of the day we all want and deserve some respect.  If supposed discussions with people turn into monologues on their part because they enjoy hearing themselves (and no one else) speak, then you’re not getting the respect you deserve, which is a chance to share what’s on your mind.  It’s also a waste of time on your end; if it’s all the same anyway, then “discussions” would best be handled via e-mail instead where responses can be asynchronous (i.e. read and reply as time permits – or not).  Be good to yourself by asking for and getting some respect.

These techniques will give some measure of coping; at the very least it will send the message that you neither have the time nor the patience to tolerate annoyances, and in this day and age no one has any time for that.

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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Political Will: Assert to Achieve Win-Win vs. Compromise

March 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Politics is the art of managing who gets what, when, where, and how; it’s the language and control of interests and values[1].

Everyday life is an exercise in politics.  One common aspect of daily political life is getting what we want.  That obviously doesn’t always happen due to competing interests with other people, most especially if it involves the appropriation of scarce resources – and this includes people’s time.  In the course of dealing with people, we end up developing compromises, though I would like to posit that it’s better to push for “win-win” arrangements as much as possible instead.

Compromise can be both good and bad.  Compromise is good when differing parties can agree to a common set of principles to achieve a particular goal, given that everybody has a different outlook on things.  However compromise can be bad for the same reason, because it reduces everyone’s aspirations to the least common denominator.  In other words, everyone is getting something but sometimes only in the most rudimentary of aspects as far as they’re concerned; nobody is getting everything they want, and this can lead to dissatisfaction for everyone.

Sometimes painful compromise might be the only option available, where the end result is the most basic of what we hope to get and nobody gets everything they want and are thus not completely happy.  It’s situations like these that feel like nobody really wins.  As much as possible this is to be avoided, but if this is the only way to move forward and get something done, then this needs to happen.  You can’t win everything all the time, so just aim to win where it really matters and hope to win the next fight.

As far as I’m concerned, “win-win” is the scenario where all parties get mostly (but admittedly still not all of) what they want.  It will obviously involve some level of compromise.  But the idea here would be, ideally, whatever needs to be removed as part of the compromise, is something that isn’t crucial to the success or happiness of the party concerned.  In other words, what’s not included is only a “nice to have,” that even without it, one would still be very happy with the outcome.

Personally, I define political will as doing what needs to be done and making things happen, if only because it just has to be done and it has to happen.  One must also exercise this in order to get what you want, most especially in the daily exercise of politics.

Have the political will to assert and achieve “win-win” outcomes rather than compromise outcomes.  It will take more effort and skill to make it happen, but the investment will be worth it to ensure everyone is happy because everyone gets as much of what they really want.

 

[1] The Politics Book, DK London, Great Britain 2013, p.12.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Attaining Greatness

March 19, 2016 1 comment

Some people seek greatness, and even kill for it when they can’t get it.  For others, greatness is thrust upon them though against their will.  But there are those where greatness is achieved after so many struggles to do what’s right and what needs to be done no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem; such is well deserved.  At some point in our lives, I think we will all find ourselves in a position of greatness in our own special way.  Hopefully when it comes, it’s attained by the latter.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Let People Talk

March 18, 2016 3 comments

Some people just love to talk.  There was a time when I found such people extremely annoying.  This is especially true when I can’t find the chance to say what’s on my mind since they just keep on talking, or I’m already doing so, but then I get cut-off.  Up to now I still think this type of person is annoying, but I’ve since learned to tolerate it (more or less) and let these people talk as much as they want.

Let’s just be brutally honest with the fact that we all have the tendency to judge one another, especially if someone is very different from us.  The more someone talks, the more you get to know that person better.  And the more you know a person, the more data points you have to use as basis to pass judgment on him or her.  I’m just saying that we might as well base our judgment on as much data as we can get about the person.  And letting the other person talk as much as he or she wants gives us the insight we need.

I’ve learned more about people since giving them as much “air time” as they want to speak their minds.  Never make the mistake of underestimating anyone; get to know them better by simply letting them talk.  I’ve learned how brilliant and entertaining some people are; I learn something new, or at the very least I find amusement, and with these people it’s worth every moment of silence I offer on my side.  I’ve also learned how toxic some people can get; they more than likely have some hidden pain that is subtly (or not) manifesting itself by their words, but just the same, though I can try to empathize as much as I can, these people are to be avoided as much as possible for my own sanity’s sake.  And then there are people who I discover are just outright stupid; nothing can be done about them, so it’s best to be patient and just move on.

In a time when some governments do anything and everything they can to know more about their citizens, letting people freely volunteer information about themselves by simply letting them speak is a simple, easy, and effective way to gain that knowledge.  Use it to your advantage.

If you want to know people better then let them speak their minds.  By their words you will know if they are wise men or fools.  This is a way of judging their character discreetly.  But be warned and watch your own words, too, for you will also be measured by this standard.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Life Story: More than Meets the Eye

March 13, 2016 2 comments

I saw a hot and sexy lady who looked like Kim Domingo in SM Megamall today.  I noticed her even from a distance, and she was stunning up close.  She was about my height, wearing a bright red dress with a short skirt length, and was all dolled-up on a Sunday morning, which now that I think about it, seems out of place (?) unless one would be going to a night out, or something.  But she only looked like Kim; it wasn’t her.  I say this on account of the wedding ring she wore on her right ring finger; from what I know, Kim isn’t married yet.  (Checking for a wedding ring is a reflex action I learned to develop over the years.)

She was eating lunch all by herself in Bon Chon, occasionally checking her smart phone in between bites.  Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t help but think that there might be something wrong with this picture.  Perhaps I’m just reacting to the stereotype idea of beautiful people who are supposed to be constantly surrounded and adored, or something to that effect.  I don’t know, but it looked a little sad?

As I eventually overcame my initial awestruck reaction, the thought crossed my mind: I wonder what the story of her life is?

Although we’re all different in our own unique ways, we’re also all the same in the many things that encompass the spectrum of human experience.  We all have our share of joy and sorrow, happiness and despair, triumph and defeat, success and failure, peace and distress, virtue and sin, love and loss, and anything and everything in between.  All of us have a story to share about our life, and once you see past any exteriors, you get to realize that we all have an interesting tale to tell about ourselves from our life experiences.

I’m also reminded that we have no right to judge anyone, especially if we don’t know anything about the other person.  The wise will accept and appreciate constructive criticism.  However most people will close their minds to any criticism no matter how true it might be, and they will especially reject that which is harsh and destructive.  Knowledge of another person leads to understanding them better; to empathize with them is something they will welcome instead.

All of us are more than meets the eye.  Perhaps if we find the time to know a little bit more about each other, or at the very least the people we regularly come across in our daily life, then we’d understand and appreciate each other some more.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy