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3 ways to shut down a motormouth

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When you're short on time, keep others from frittering it away by rehashing the same old issues or making idle chitchat. Three effective strategies:

1. Keep absolutely quiet. Any response (even sounds like “um” and “uh-huh”) will encourage more chatter. Make a nonstop talker feel self-conscious through total silence.

2. Speak at an especially slow tempo. Most chatterboxes are fast talkers. Create a contrast and you will call attention to how the other person is monopolizing the dialogue. Your goal is to make them think, “Gee, I’m talking too much here.”

3. Never restate what you hear. Typically this is a good way to confirm your understanding, but it’s a bad idea with a chatterbox.

If you’re accurate, they’ll say, “Yes, that’s right” and then repeat themselves. If you’re wrong, they’ll worry they aren’t making themselves clear and talk twice as much.

A better approach: When they’re through, say, “Got it.” Then say goodbye.

To end an e-mail exchange politely and discourage a chatterbox-style volley:

• Finish a message with “No reply needed,” or NRN.

• When making a request, finish with “Thanks in advance.”

• If fulfilling a request, end with a conclusive statement like “Hope this helped.”

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