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Jacky Sherman

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Networking Skills: How To Deal With The Nervous Rambler

A very common question I get asked ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 07/10/2020 @ 8:00AM

You know the sort of person they mean. Someone who doesn’t stop to draw breath let alone allows you to get a word in edgewise. They metaphorically trap you in a corner and won’t let you get away ...

It's worthwhile learning this networking skill!

It's worthwhile learning this networking skill!

copyright: bowie15 / 123rf

You say hello, and nice to meet you and then usually ask what do you do. They then proceed to tell you in greatest detail all about what they do. Well think about it, you did ask.

"My tip for you is to be charitable and take some responsibility for the monologue that follows. You can stop it!"

Firstly, remember this person is obviously not comfortable in small talk situations and that the stream of consciousness that is hitting you full-force like a burst dam is probably the result of nerves,

Here are my step by step tactics to get a word in edgewise:

  • Start by listening. The other person will pick up if you're not giving them your full attention. If they are a nervous rambler then they will get more nervous and up the intensity of their explanation.

  • Seek out something that is interesting in what they are saying. However, much they are overdoing the detail, people who can talk for hours about their business will have something to say. If you can get through the maelstrom there may be something of real value in what they are offering. After all what they lack is small talk skills. In their work all that attention to detail might be a real strength.

  • Whilst they are talking you need to help them relax. A trick I learnt from my conflict resolution days is to mirror their behaviour to gain rapport and then de-escalate, as you relax they will follow you. So, listen with intensity and then gradually relax your shoulders.

  • Look for the slightest pause. They will have to breathe eventually. Ask them a question or comment on that nugget of interesting information they've shared. It is really important to show that you have been listening or they will want to repeat it all again.

Now, you're controlling the conversation!

Alternatively just listen in a relaxed manner until eventually they dry up. Most people can't continue without an active response for more than a couple of minutes. So, be patient. If you do this, make sure you're not giving off body language or sounds that encourages them to continue (head nodding or affirmative grunts come to mind).

Have a transition phrase ready to turn the conversation to that something of common interest that you have discovered, I find if I've relaxed this person and demonstrated that I've listened they usually ask me a question.

"Now, open up your conversation by opening
up your body language!"

Take a step back and to the side to include what I call the invisible third person and turn this one-to-one conversation into a group. This makes the conversation less intense and indicates that others can join you. If someone does join you, you can move the conversation along by including the third person,

Is it worth the effort? Well yes, if you've helped someone relax in a situation where they felt ill at ease then they will remember you and who knows where that might take you.

I'll leave you with a plea: please, please, please don't just say you need to go to the loo! I've been amazed how many people say they use that one to get away.

It's just naff so don't!

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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