Getting off the phone with motor mouths

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Their mouth runs on and on. Your ear is getting tired of having the phone against it. No matter how hard you try, getting a word inserted into the conversation borders on impossible. The person on the other end of the phone has found fresh ears for long stories and gossip. Racking your brain, you wonder how you allowed yourself to get into this dilemma. Next, you look for a way out.

This type of person rarely realizes what kind of grief is being endured by the listener.


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Because of their lack of understanding, these people will never acknowledge that they have taken enough of your time. It will be rare for them to offer to tell you the rest later. Like people with hours of home movies to show, they just assume that you want to hear it as much as they want to tell it. How do you escape?

For close friends, you want to take a gentle exit approach.


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Eventually, everyone looks for an affirmation that you are listening. When you hear one, it is your chance to exit. If you are not clear about your desire, you will have to wait for the next one. Having heard the opening, you want to get their attention. Something straightforward is best. Say, “Listen, I’ll have to hear the rest later.” No matter what they say next, you have to say good bye and hang up.

For coworkers who have chosen to call you at home, you can be a little less subtle.


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Very few things can be considered as annoying as having a coworker call you at home to relate hours of office gossip or rumors. If you work closely with this person, tell them firmly but nicely that you prefer to leave your work situations at work. More than likely, they will act stunned, but it will get you off of the phone.

If the motor mouth is your boss, you may have a little bigger problem.


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The first time this happens, you may have to endure the torture. Since it is the boss, you may view this as necessary to your career advancement. However, if you are paid by the hour and on a salary, this is not really part of your job.

Eventually, the conversation will turn toward topics that are not job related. When it does, you need to strike as soon as you can to end the call. If questions have been posed, tell your boss that you need to go so you can think about what has been asked. Hopefully, this will catch the person a little off guard. Follow immediately with a thank you for the call and hang up.

If the calls continue to be a problem, you will have to find a way to address the issue. The safest way to handle this is to start by answering the phone with a time limit. It works like this: “Thanks for calling, but I can only talk for 5 minutes.” Use a precise time on the clock then to set the boundary. When the time comes, tell the boss that you have to go and hang up.

If the incident is mentioned at work, be as honest as possible with the person. Make them aware that you have obligations to your family and other areas of life. All but the worst of people will accept this.

With almost all other categories of callers, you do not even have to be polite.


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Some might argue that being polite is always the right approach. For solicitors who call you and interrupt your life, politeness is not necessary. As soon as you can identify that the call is a solicitor, tell them you are not interested and hang up or just hang up. Do not get sucked into a conversation with these people unless you are just desperate to hear a human voice. In that case, tie them up as long as you want, but just do not buy anything.

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