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I have a group of friends, and we have been together for a while now where we meet once or twice a week, to play games together - D&D, board games, etc. It's a social event.

However, especially lately I've noticed that one person has started to lean in a certain direction when it comes to conversation - I'm having more and more issues trying to contribute to the conversation. I get ignored, or they talk over the top of me, and I feel like I'm forced to stop talking. I have been taught to wait for an opening to talk, or if someone else is talking, to stop and wait. But every time I do this, I still get cut off.

I haven't done anything to solve this, I have only seen how far this goes. It even got to the point where I had started talking, then they began talking, I didn't stop talking, to see if they would, but to no avail. And again, I was the one that was ignored.

I am unsure of how to approach this - but it has been going on for several months now - I am unsure of why this has begun happening, or if anyone else has noticed the issue, or even who the cause of the issue is - myself or others.

How can I approach the person, or the group in order to deal with this situation?

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I know the particular situation quite well. Sometimes, things just get out of hand for no apparent reason or because one person had a bad day. For simplicity, let's call the person talking over you "Bob". The reasons why Bob talks over you can be numerous and I don't know which one applies. A short list of possible reasons include:

  • Bob is egocentric and wants to be the center of attention. Especially in Pen&Paper RPGs the more you talk, the more you influence the game, which puts Bob into a position of power.
  • Bob just got a really funny idea and is so excited that he cannot wait to blurt it out. He's behaving immaturely.
  • Bob wasn't raised the same way you were and doesn't see any fault in his behaviour.
  • Bob doesn't like you anymore and intentionally talks over you.
  • Bob has a hearing deficiency and doesn't hear that you started talking.

The problem is that it's extremely hard to change Bobs behaviour, especially if the rest of the group doesn't agree or care either way.

I suggest investigating why his behaviour changed that way. You can either ask him directly or ask your friends whether they noticed any changes in Bob's behaviour. If he disrupts your other friends as well, you can be reasonably sure that it's not a personal problem. If they tell you Bob talks badly about you behind your back, you can be reasonably sure it's personal.

Then you can address the situation with your friends. Don't make it about you, but about the general situation.

Our games have been quite chaotic lately. You can barely voice any idea without being disrupted by the next idea. I'd like us to calm down a little and let everyone talk without disruptions. We'd have more fun that way.

With some luck, your friends will agree and start noticing Bob's behaviour during your games.

The next time, Bob talks over you, kindly ask him to let you finish speaking.

I'm sorry, I wasn't finished yet.

Hold that thought for a minute, I wasn't finished.

Could you please let me finish without disrupting?

If your friends agree that Bob's behaviour is rude or if Bob disrupts your friend as well, they might ask him to stop as well.

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I've had similar issues with a past co-worker who would tend to get excited talk over others increasing in volume as they went. I found the best way to take back control of the situation was like:

co-worker: but we can't just do that...
me: [raises hand like to indicate stop] hang on a sec, why can't we?
co-worker: I already told you! [starts back into rant]
me: whoa, whoa, let's just back track...

Here you're getting their attention visually to interject with what you want to say (hopefully this gets them to pause, if not you can repeat 'hang on' a few times as well). When you talk you should keep your voice calm and at a comfortable volume. If when they start talking again they go back to speaking louder that's when interjecting a second time becomes really effective, again keep your tone calm and slow down to draw their attention to the way you are speaking. I found that this almost guaranteed they calmed down their own tone and slowed down to be more open to discussion

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This can happen - without bad intent - if you are one of the people who break their speech for a time longer than average, and you are talking to people who take a shorter break than average as a sign they can/should interrupt.

So it might help if you try to speak with pauses as short as possible. If someone tries to speak while you speak, you don't stop but continue speaking, louder. This will help if others are just having different speaking habits than you. It won't help if they are not actually willing to listen to you.

Speaking calm and quiet so that others need to focus to listen is also something that might help with some people.

Forget what you have been taught. Yes, it is right in principle, you should wait for an opening and not interrupt. The problem with this is that between people, the required length of the opening is different. So they will take the slightest pause in your speech as an opening to interrupt you.

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