Shut Someone Up With These Nonverbal Cues
Some people love to hear themselves talk so much you can’t even get a word in edgewise. Well, part of the problem is that you’re waiting for them to pass the conch to you—and they’re not going to do it. You don’t have to straight-up interrupt them, though; you can simply use your body language.
With the most basic of maneuvers, you can easily send the message that you’d like to interject your thoughts. Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Captivate and founder of Science of People, gives her five best moves in the video above. They are as follows:
- The Fish: You open your mouth wide (like a fish) to signify that you’re ready to talk now.
- The Bookmark: You reach out your hand to slide into what they’re saying and add something. Pairs well with The Fish.
- The Pupil: You raise your hand as if you were in a classroom. It also subtly looks like the universal sign for “stop.”
- The Touch: You lightly touch their shoulder or arm. This usually stops them and gives you a small opening to use to your advantage. It could be to add something, or merely to say goodbye and escape the conversation. (“It was nice chatting with you!”)
- The Teacher: You hold your finger up like a teacher demanding silence in a classroom. It looks similar to the “shhh” gesture. This is the most aggressive move and should only be used when everything else fails.
Start with The Fish, then work your way down until they clam up. If the other person has any social awareness whatsoever, they should pick up on at least one of these. Or you could try my favorite (and pretty rude) tactic—ask them if their show has an intermission. If they don’t stop, they clearly don’t respect you or your time and you should stop trying to talk to them. Go find someone who wants to have a conversation, not some jabber-mouth who’s only looking for an audience.
How to Nicely Interrupt Someone and Get Them to Stop Talking | Science of People