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How to Stop Time-Suckers


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Marion Winik
Redbook Magazine Logo
They talk your ear off, oblivious to your busy schedule. You'd do anything to shut them up, but how? These three easy steps will help you handle any motormouth so that you can get on with your day.

Time is precious, as they say — which is why it's so incredibly frustrating when someone comes along and nonchalantly siphons it out of your day. We're talking about the way-too-chatty friend, relative, coworker, or acquaintance who latches on to you when you bump into her at the supermarket, holds you hostage on the phone (even when you've got a deadline at work), or unexpectedly drops by for a visit. The more she blathers on, the greater your desperation grows. Is there a way to stop her without being rude? Is it possible to prevent this from happening in the future and preserve your relationship with her? Yes, yes, and yes. Here's how.

STEP 1: Put her on pause.

Stopping this person's monologue is your first order of business. To handle that sensitive task diplomatically:

  • Gently but firmly interrupt her. When you're face-to-face, you can force a pause by holding up a finger or simply opening your mouth to give the signal that you're going to break in. On the phone, you may have to raise your voice slightly to get the conversational upper hand. Start with "Excuse me..." or "Okay..." or "You know...."
  • Immediately follow with something positive. That unexpected interruption may throw her a bit, so be sure to soothe her with a few kind words: "It's great to hear from you..." or "I'm so glad that you stopped by..."
  • Then deliver the excuse. "But I only have about five minutes." "I'm expecting a call that I really have to take." "I was just putting Caitlyn to bed." "I've got something burning on the stove." "I'm heading out for an appointment." Your excuse should have some basis in fact, if possible, since truth rolls off the tongue more easily. And remember that "I've got a busy day/evening" is hardly ever an outright lie.

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