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How To Politely Interrupt the Conversation?

I face many situations where the recipient is talking too much and straying away from the main focus. I understand that it's good to let the other person elaborate about their own interests and passions (Remember How to Win Friends and Influence People). However, I find it a huge time waster, given the quota to achieve (and let's be honest, the ultimate objective is always to close the sale).

#business #sales #conversation


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Judith’s Answer

Interrupting someone to redirect the conversation back on-topic can be difficult. Your timing must be right, or you can offend the other person. It's best to be polite. You could state something such as "I'm sorry to interrupt but..." or "I apologize but I have to cut this short...". Another avenue is to ask a question, "Sorry for the interruption, but I want to make sure that I understand." One of my personal favorites is if the individual is telling an off-topic personal story is to say, "That is very interesting and quite an experience I'd love to hear more about it another time." The goal is to have the person feel heard and appreciated while still covering the topics that you need to discuss.

Nice piece of advice! Sofia Taveira

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Greta’s Answer

Sometimes in sales letting the customer talk may seem like it’s wasting time, however, you could potentially learn something that could help you close the business or provide opportunity for another close in the future. One way of making sure your objectives are covered in a conversation is by sending an agenda beforehand. This way if the other person starts to bring up something that is not on the agenda, you can acknowledge it and ask that you set another meeting to discuss those items so that you can stick to the agenda for your current conversation. Making sure they feel heard and acknowledged is polite and you can still get back on topic.

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Deborah D.’s Answer

What stood out to me about your question was your comment; "I face many situations where the recipient is talking too much and straying away from the main focus"
The situation and the recipient make all the difference as to how much you let them talk, but either way you still have to listen in order to get a word in edgewise.
Perhaps you tag on to a comment and find a way to bring the conversation back around, as in; 'Speaking of that' or 'Now that you mention that'

If it is a professional exchange, of course you let the boss talk.
You described the other party as a recipient. Recipient of what? i s this a customer?

Don't anticipate that the conversation will be a problem before it even starts. If possible take a minute to breath while you listen.
You never know, you just might hear something you might not have been privy to otherwise
Wishing you munch success

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Anne’s Answer

This is a great question, and I have unfortunately had to deal with this many times during interviews with people. To answer it, you need to be considering a few different angles:

If it's a person at a higher level than you- let them talk for as long as they want. The more they're talking to you, the more they must like you- so you probably want to foster that relationship.

If it's a person at an equaly level to you- sometimes interupting them with a question regarding the topic you're on will show that you're more engaged in the conversation. The tricky part is to ask a question that will result in a shorter answer.
If you know this person is a bit sensitive about being interupted or talked over, you have to find a break where they catch a breath, and take control of the conversation. The best way to control the conversation is by asking questions.

If it's a person at a lesser level than you- interrupt them and tell them they're getting off topic. They need to know, and if you're at a higher level, you should be providing that coaching.

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Sonia’s Answer

Sometimes it can be really hard to not show your frustration - but learning how to control this is one of the most important things in business today.

Some tips that really help me:

- spend time setting up a conversation to be successful. Every minute you spend doing this will be rewarded. This should include having an agenda and agreeing this up front. That way everyone is brought in to how the conversation will flow.
- get comfortable with being uncomfortable - this means that things wont always go to your plan - and that is great because it is often where the magic can happen. Learn to be patient and accept that other people have different styles and needs.

Good luck - and learning this now will pay you back quickly!!

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Matt’s Answer

_Be transparent, authentic, and an active listener. Be bold enough to be communicate time-sensitivity. "Real quick, excuse me, or even pay a compliment to the other party's statements."

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Andrew’s Answer

A simple tip that I learned is to start softly saying "yeah", "yes", "uh huh." This signals to the speaker that you have something you'd like to say and allows them to finish their thought.

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Sonia’s Answer

Sometimes it can be really hard to not show your frustration - but learning how to control this is one of the most important things in business today.

Some tips that really help me:

- spend time setting up a conversation to be successful. Every minute you spend doing this will be rewarded. This should include having an agenda and agreeing this up front. That way everyone is brought in to how the conversation will flow.
- get comfortable with being uncomfortable - this means that things wont always go to your plan - and that is great because it is often where the magic can happen. Learn to be patient and accept that other people have different styles and needs.

Good luck - and learning this now will pay you back quickly!!

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Carlos’s Answer

All great answers. Here is a different take. If you are selling a $500K car, and your commission is 20%, then would you want to stop the conversation?

What if the client has another 10 rich friends that he could recommend you to because of the listening skills you demonstrate? Point that I am making is that everything revolves around relationships, and in sales listening and building a relationship is paramount

Given the tone of your question however, it sounds like you want to handle the small tactical item quick so you can move on, and the people who you are dealing with are taking too long, and not closing on this... does this mean you should stop them short so you can move on?

What would you think if a salesperson is rushing your grandparents through something because they want to move on to the next person? How would you feel?

With time you will learn more as experiences do not show up one after the other, and they aren't thought in school. Unlike most advice, i would recommend to look in the mirror, and change what you are doing if this is not working out for you


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Quinn’s Answer

Thank the person for their feedback, highlighting the purpose of the discussion and the importance of staying focused on it. When the timing is right, you could thank them for their input and remind them about the discussion's purpose and pivot the conversation back where you would like it to be.

Example: "Thank you for your input due to limited time, I would like us to focus on finalizing our sales plan to drive more sales towards achieving our quota. What is your thought around this?

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Kai’s Answer

HI, it sounds like from your question (and from the hashtags) that you have an interest in going into a sales career. Also I noticed the Dale Carnegie book reference. If you have an interested in sales (plus closing the sale) I would recommend looking into sales advice books from author JEB BLOUNT. He has a good number of books out there regarding sales and how to steer the conversation. The book I read was OBJECTIONS (The Art and Science of Getting Past NO) but he has numerous others.

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Jeffery’s Answer

Hi, that is a challenge no doubt! My rule of thumb is never interrupt when you are talking to a customer or perspective customer. Be silent and listen. Listening is the key to sales. There is a saying that goes "nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care." To me this means that you have to show that you care and you do that by listening and asking questions. While a customer is talking, or venting, listen and jot down notes. Your time will come to give your side of the story, and pitch and present. People you speak with will appreciate that quality!

Jeffery recommends the following next steps:

Great book to read- Sell with a Story by Paul Smith. Check it out.

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Heather’s Answer

Timing is everything! Yes, you want to connect with the customer and may want to allow for that the next time you have a conversation. If the timing is off, then try this. “(Customer), sorry to interrupt but I only have (__ ) minutes left before I have to start on (_________) and I’d like to make sure we are on task for the (______).” Would you like me to (_____) or (______), so we can finish discussing how to (______)? Do not pause in your sentence and say it in less than 10 seconds. The choices you mentioned can be calling back at a later time and giving them what date and time options.
If that’s not the style you’d prefer then set up another time to discuss product. Sometimes it is important to set the exception of the value of your time, especially if the sale has to be broken down in project management format (timeline).

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Harrison’s Answer

This is a great question. Passively directing the conversation so it stays as pertinent as possible is not easy, and is something that comes with time and experience over anything else. In my experience, timing is the most critical thing. Allowing the person to have a tangential conversation can be beneficial to building up trust and a relationship, which can be very important later on. A great way strategy that I employ is to repeat some of what they are saying, to show that you were listening and then direct the customer in the direction you thing is more beneficial. It takes practice but don't be afraid to make mistakes, that's a great way to learn!

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Yuka’s Answer

I agree with all the great answers above. But just in case, here is a psychology trick that I learned in my Intro to Psych class, and it really works! If someone won't stop talking, drop something (keys, pen) and then reach down to pick it up and start talking. It is a way to interrupt without letting the other person noticing it.

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Steve’s Answer

I understand you fully and here is my approach with those types of talkers. I usually will say something like:

"That's really neat and quite interesting, but have you thought about ______xyz_____________________________________?" In this manner you end up making them feel good about their discussion points while re-directing the conversation to you in a manner that does not offend the other person.


Great question by the way! Let me know how this approach works.

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Anthony’s Answer

Hello Yew! I am happy to try and help with your question. In my experience, I have seen that you just have to look for the right time to jump into the conversation. You will have to be direct about it and try to catch the person at the end of the comment, but this seems to be the best way. It can also help you come off less offensive if you can finds ways to relate your next question or comment to what they were saying to show them that you were in fact listening to what they are saying.

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Jason’s Answer

"Name, I want to respect your time and I'd hate to interrupt." Always put it back on the prospect as you're helping save them time by interrupting.

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Anna’s Answer

People like to buy from people they like. What seems like a time-waster can actually be a needle-mover. The good news is, if they are talking that much, usually that means they like you enough to keep a conversation going!

I find that it helps to steer conversation. If the conversation starts veering to the wayside, be personable and politely address by their name (e.g. “Yew Kin, you mentioned you only have x amount of time aside for this meeting and in the interest of time, how about we return to the topic at hand? We can table the rest for a follow up.”) Usually they will be pretty receptive to that. It helps to frame it in a way that they benefit.

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Maike’s Answer

Hi Yew! I know that sometimes if someone is talking too much it can be annoying and also very difficult to interrupt them. I can recommend the following things:

(1) Timing: try to interrupt when the speaker is taking a breath
(2) Be polite: try to be as polite as possible when interrupting. You can say "pardon, may I interrupt you", or "excuse me, I´d like to add something to this point" or "conscious of time, please allow me to interrupt you" or "excuse me, I´ll keep this brief".
(3) Get clarification: if the discussion is going into a wrong direction, people may appreciate if you step in to ask for an explanation or clarification
(4) Use a gesture: sometimes it is easier to interrupt by making eye-contact or by lifting a hand.

So I would like to encourage you to test it in as many situations as possible. The clarification question always works - even if there is no real need to interrupt someone. Practice in order to become comfortable with interrupting!

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Mya’s Answer

Hi Yew,

Great question and you have a lot of great advice above! Sometime it can be hard to interrupt. People like to share and talk to build a connection. I am one of those people but I don't get offended when someone politely cuts in and stears the convo in a different direction. Just judge the person you are chatting with. But one thing to watch out for is how you come across when they are talking. Are you distracted? Do you look like you don't care? And you looking agitated? These are something that can hurt you even more than just polity interrupting them.


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