Friday, 22 May 2009

Blah blah blah

What is it with some people and their inability to shut up?

I work with a bloke who just can't close his trap. He's nice enough, and he's competent - but he has no off button. Worst of all he repeats himself. Then he repeats himself again. Did I mention he repeats himself several times? And of course he goes on to repeat himself. Each repeat is slightly different to what he said 5 seconds earlier. Just slightly different to what he said 5 seconds earlier. But he said the same thing 5 seconds earlier, and then repeated himself in a slightly different vein.

What drives me spare is that he is a "verbal thinker" - he can't visualise something in his head unless he is talking about it. If we were talking about painting a room green, he'd sound like this:

"So, we're going to paint this room? We'll paint this room over here? This room? What colour will we do it? Green? You like green? You want to paint this room green? We'll paint this room green. Should we do it in green? Are you sure you want green? Why green? You like green? Is green ok? You sure you want green? It's this room isn't it? What colour was that again - blue? No, green. That's right, green. This room. You like green. Green is ok. We'll paint this room green. When do we start? Tomorrow? Tomorrow is Saturday. We start Saturday? We work on Saturday? We paint on Saturday? We paint this room on Saturday? Which room are we painting? This room? We're going to use green paint, aren't we? On Saturday? Not Sunday? Sunday is no good for you? I can't do Sunday anyway. Saturday is good for me. Hey, did you see that Manchester United are playing on Saturday? Are you going to watch the game? Did you watch them last weekend? It was a great game. We'll do it on Saturday. This room...." and on and on he goes.

The worst of it is that we commonly organise work by conference call, and this guy ties up the line endlessly because once he starts on one of his verbal thinking monologues, no one else can get a word in. You can't talk over the top of him - he just won't shut up. We have a mute button on the phone so we can prevent others from hearing what we say, but there is no mute button that allows the call organiser to shut him off. We need the equivalent of a remote "cone of silence", where we press a button on our end and he is thrown into the cone of silence.

But I haven't finished yet.

Let's say we are on a call that is booked to last half an hour, and the conversation that I started with happened in the first 2 minutes. After 28 minutes, we have finished our business and are saying goodbye. Mr Blabbermouth will cut in with:

"I just want to clarify an issue before we go. We're working on Saturday, right? Saturday morning? Not Sunday? We're painting that room red?"

At which point the line is jammed with people yelling and swearing and shouting out "GREEN!!", closely followed by all the parties except him hanging up. I have learned to be ruthless with him - he doesn't know how to end a conversation. When we say, "Good bye", we generally mean that as meaning, "good bye, end of story, time to cut the line". He takes that as the start of a whole new thread of conversation, centred around saying good bye. I simply yell "see ya" and hit the end call button, cutting him off in mid flow. The look of relief on the faces around me is palpable - everyone knows that the more time we spend listening to him ramble, the more time we have to spend at work.

I'm sure I could cut my time at work by 10% by installing a remote cone of silence at his end.

1 comment:

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Talk about someone needing a lesson in utilizing their inner monologue. It's too bad he can't snap a rubber band on his wrist for aversion therapy when he gets revved up.