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How do you deal with someone who always wants the last word?

One of the most annoying and frustrating conversations that one can have is with someone who talks over you, doesn't listen and always wants to have the last word. If you are living with such a person or know someone like this, you will understand the frustration in trying to converse with them. Most of these people do not have close friends and are often divorced because of their irritating behaviour of wanting to out-shout you in an argument. They are also embarrassing to be associated with in a social setting because of the argumentative and authoritative manner in which they speak. It's as if they know it all. Irritating, right?

If this person is a friend or a relative, most of us will avoid them to preserve our own boundaries and sanity. But what if they are our parents, siblings, spouses, or children? It is harder to avoid them, so what should be the appropriate way to deal with them? Dealing with someone who consistently wants the last word and doesn’t listen can be challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to navigate such interactions. Here are some steps you can consider:

  1. Stay Calm and Self-Aware:

  • First, maintain your composure. Recognize that their behaviour is about them, not you.

  • Be self-aware and avoid getting emotionally triggered. Remind yourself that you have control over your reactions.

  1. Active Listening:

  • Even if the other person isn’t listening, model good behaviour by actively listening to what they say.

  • Show empathy and understanding, even if you disagree. Sometimes, people soften when they feel heard.

  1. Choose Your Battles:

  • Not every conversation requires a response. Consider whether it’s worth engaging in a back-and-forth.

  • You might let them have the last word without escalating if it's a trivial matter.

  1. Set Boundaries:

  • Politely assert your boundaries. For example:

  • “I appreciate your perspective, but I’d like to share mine too.”

  • “Let’s agree to disagree.”

  • If they interrupt or talk over you, calmly say, “I’d like to finish my thought.”

  1. Avoid Power Struggles:

  • Remember that conversations aren’t competitions. It’s not about winning or losing.

  • Refrain from trying to “win” by having the last word. Instead, focus on understanding and respectful communication.

  1. Redirect the Conversation:

  • If they consistently dominate conversations, steer the discussion toward a different topic.

  • Ask open-ended questions to shift the focus away from their monologue.

  1. Use “I” Statements:

  • Express your feelings without blaming them. For example:

  • “I feel unheard when you interrupt me.”

  • “I’d appreciate it if we could take turns speaking.”

  1. Disengage When Necessary:

  • If the situation becomes toxic or unproductive, consider disengaging:

  • “I need some time to think about this. Let’s continue later.”

  • “I don’t think we’re getting anywhere. Let’s revisit this another time.”

Remember, you can’t control their behaviour, but you can control your reactions. Prioritize your well-being and choose responses that maintain your dignity and sanity. If all else fails, get them to see a professional therapist, and if that fails, consider avoiding them even if they are a to preserve your sanity.


About the Author


Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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