Recently I attended an extended work induction and became increasingly irked by what I now have learned is a Conversation Hijacker and Dominator (CHD), this is someone who will steal the ‘speaking space’ at every opportunity, and also create their own opportunities.
So for example, you might say something like; “yeah so the other day I had a really difficult customer-” and then the CHD will cut you off with something like “oh I know!, the other day I had the exact same problem, and then I [insert long tirade, potentially about something completely unrelated]”.
Now this person that I’m speaking about, would start a lot of conversations, but did not leave any speaking space for others to fill, rather, she talked at us, not to us. And of course when anyone else spoke, she took over the conversation by either relating it to herself, or her child, or someone completely random, that we had no interest in hearing about.
This became increasingly frustrating as the days wore on, and in fact, caused me to disengage from this person, I had no interest in conversing, or rather, being talked at, so did not engage her at all. Now I have to point out that this person, and I’m sure many CHDs, are not malicious, they do not do this intentionally. It is like a disability, they simply can’t help themselves.
So the question is, how does one deal with it? There are a few options here, for instance, you might want to do what I did and zone out and go to your ‘happy place’ :), as otherwise, you risk your finite energy being drained (as mine was), especially if you’re with the CHD for a prolonged period. The problem here is, the CHD does not even register your reaction, because they are not interacting with you.
So another option is to minimise interaction with these vampires….however this is not always possible, as in my case, or if it’s someone we care about. So, the next option is to gently broach the subject with them, perhaps stating that sometimes, you feel you’re not being listened to.
We have to remember that CHDs can be a bit self absorbed, and therefore, oblivious, lacking basic social cues, like the glazed over eyes in your bored-ass face. So my advice to CHDs is, STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN! Seriously guys, it’s annoying, please start interacting and reacting with your audience, or you’ll end up alone, torturing your cat or dog because everyone else has decided to avoid you.