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So I have a few fairly new friends. Most are very quiet and shy except for one person who is super confident, friendly and LOUD... lets call her Lucy.

The other day the 6 of us had a barbecue where Lucy got a little tipsy while everyone else stayed sober. This lead to the conversation being completely railroaded about one specific book series that nobody else had any interest in. By the first 20 minutes or so, everyone had said something along the lines of "ooh, I don't really read anymore", so its clear that literally nobody else is invested in this book recommendation/plot explanation/analytical breakdown.

However, Lucy goes on and on about this series for 1-3 hours... I'm not sure it probably just felt like 3 hours, and I can tell everyone just wants it to end. I have actually read the book she was talking about and even I got lost in a lot of the description, so I can only imagine what it would be like for everyone else.

Because so many of us are ridiculously softly spoken, its down to me and one other guy to try and save the conversation. While Lucy continuing to talk about the book to this guy, he tried turning and just starting a new conversation, talking over her (but not as loudly). Lucy took offence, calling them out for being rude and ignoring her.

After this, I tried to jump on or make comments about the mini topics that were not directly book related. So although I slip in small comments or ask questions about other things. Lucy was so loud and perpetually in the middle of an important story anything I said would either get acknowledged and railroaded back to the book, used to further the book conversation or if it was too long or off topic, straight up ignored.

Its not usually this bad, in general we all love Lucy and appreciate how she keeps the conversation going and she definitely brings us all together. But it should never have even gotten close to the point it did.

So with priority 1 being to stay polite and on good terms with Lucy and priority 2 being save the conversation: how can I strong-arm Lucy away from a specific topic in the future, without her thinking I'm rude?

  • are you close friends with Lucy? – Mykazuki Nov 8 at 5:24
  • Well yes, but i mean like you have some level of rapport?. There are some people that you know two minutes and they have told you their whole life and all the bad things that happened to them already. Like could you be honest with her in private or like you are not yet there in the relationship? – Mykazuki Nov 8 at 6:07
  • @Mykazuki Yeah my bad, ill be more specific. Lucy and the others are all relatively new friends but we chat happily and semi honestly. In private but not for a long period of time and probably juuuust close enough that it wouldn't be too weird if I asked to crash on their couch when in need. – Jesse Nov 8 at 6:08
  • This is a common problem in male-female friendships. Men and women are fundamentally different, so the way Lucy communicates rubs you the wrong way. It's natural. The problem isn't with Lucy, or with you. – notmySOaccount Nov 13 at 2:33
  • @notmySOaccount I mean... I'm no expert but I've got to say I disagree with you completely. One of our other friends is female, and I picked up on plenty of signs that they (along with everyone else in the group) also felt trapped in a conversation they didnt want to be in – Jesse Nov 13 at 5:34
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I have been in this situation and situations very similar to this one before, this is how I handle this.

Usually when this happens (with friends or very good friends) either me or another of the people in the group will try to divert the conversation. You and others did this, but it did not work. If this still fails after, let's say three tries, then someone in our group will just speak up and say something akin to:

"Hey, let's stop talking about that already, only you are interested in it." (this is a bad, direct translation and works better in my language, I assume something like this exists in English. The goal is to send this message in a friend-to-friend tone.) (This is the sentence in my own language: Hey, stop nu eens met altijd daar terug over te beginnen we hebben het daar al genoeg over gehad nu he, tijd voor iets anders.)

I do not believe that this is impolite rather, taking your friends and conversation partners on a wild ride of something you are enthusiastic about while they are not is rude in my opinion. Simply stating that most other people in the conversation would like to move on from that topic is not impolite.

In my experience it is best to be direct to the point but without making it sound as if you are frustrated or putting blame. Say it in a matter of factly way.

Sometimes people get sad/ defensive/ angry because of this, especially if they are drunk. But then you just reiterate what they said, if they are too emotional/ drunk to listen to the reason, let them leave the conversation for a bit. Later they will rejoin when they have cleared their head up.

In all the times I, or one of my friends, had to do this (which is often enough) it went only once really bad. The person ignored most of us for a week. But the person was also somebody with a temper and took everything as an accusation towards them. If Lucy is like this, this might work like that as well.

My personal view and take on all of this is simple. If I am that person that is railroading I fully expect my friends to stop me and tell me that I am doing so. And I know they expect me to do the same for them. This is what you have friends for, so they can stop you before you make a fool out of yourself by dragging a dead conversation on and on.

  • I would go with something like "hey lets talk about something else now" – WendyG Nov 12 at 9:48
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My way of handling situations similar to this is to excuse myself from the conversation saying something like:

This really isn't a topic I feel like discussing right now, can we get back to [insert previous topic]?

This is usually enough with my friend group to softly burst the story tellers bubble a bit so to speak, this gives others a chance to speak up as well if they're not interested. It also makes your wanting to change the subject about you, and not about their story, which should help to reduce any defensive feelings the story teller may have.

Alternatively, another way you can try to shift the conversation if your quick thinking is to take a tangent from their story and spin it into a new train of thought.

story teller: and so in this book the character goes totally nuts...
you: that reminds me of The Joker, has anyone else seen that movie?

this way can be very effective so long as you can keep your tangent alive long enough to derail the story tellers train of thought however as mentioned it requires you to think fast and for your group to jump on your train of thought to keep it going.

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