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Ask Ann Cannon: Here’s a technique for dealing with the ‘Talks-a-Lot’ in your life

First Published      Last Updated May 13 2017 10:27 pm

Dear Ann Cannon • How do you deal with people who think a conversation is a one-way monologue? It seems in every family — and certainly in mine — that some people want to do all the talking; some never pause for a breath of air. They're not interested in give-and-take, what's been happening in my life, or what my opinion might be on any given subject. I've encountered similar people in my neighborhood, book club, congregation, etc. It's easier to avoid them than it is FAMILY members. And even worse is one particular female relative who is absolutely certain her opinion is the final answer and who contradicts anyone else's opinion should they have 2 seconds in which to speak it.

— Speechless (but not by choice)

Dear Speechless • We've all dealt with this personality type at one time or another, and you're right — depending on how often you see them, things get trickier when relatives are involved.

I have a friend who's pretty much a genius when it comes to handling the situation you describe. When we're at lunch and someone starts monopolizing the conversation, this friend will step up and politely take charge. Here's what she does: She'll make a validating statement such as, "That's interesting!" Then she'll turn to someone else at the table and ask, "So, what do YOU think?" This technique — which she makes look effortless because she's pretty much a genius — brings other people into the conversation, as well.

Maybe you can try a version of this with your own Madame Talks-a-Lot. It's worth a try —and I'm guessing the rest of your relations will applaud your efforts.

Dear Ann Cannon • As a teacher of middle-school students for the past eight years, what should I say to a parent who claims I don't understand her child because I do not have children of my own?

— Livid

Dear Livid • Don't go there with her. When you talk to this mother, keep the focus on what you've observed as a professional educator about her child in the classroom (I'm assuming there's a problem or the mother wouldn't have made the comment). Whether you, the teacher, have children of your own is none of her business and it's also not particularly relevant, although she wants to believe it is. It's tempting for parents to explain away a kid's troublesome behavior by blaming somebody or something else.

The irony, of course, is that because teachers deal with so many different students, they may have a broader understanding of children than parents do at times — especially when it comes to kids in a group setting. Meanwhile, try to have an open mind when talking to this mother, but do not be afraid to hold your ground.

Dear Ann Cannon • Like you, I am a dog lover. I have two of my own. But I am annoyed with a neighbor of mine who walks her dog off leash through our city neighborhood and allows the dog to poop in my yard without cleaning up after it. What should I do?

— Not in my front yard!

Dear Not • Well, you could put one of those signs in your front yard that tells dogs to take their business someplace else. But that would only egg my dogs on. They'd probably toilet paper your house and then prank call you every night for a week because they hate it when people tell them what to do. They're such teenagers that way!

Actually, a sign might increase your neighbor's awareness of the problem and silently shame her into cleaning up after her dog. If that doesn't work, you can either approach her in a friendly fashion about the problem or resign yourself to cleaning up the messes.

Do you have a question for Ann? Send it to askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.




 

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