Communicating effectively with someone who talks over you?
I know a lot of the board here has some natural skill in navigating tricky communication. This is not in regards to my marriage but rather an employee of mine.
He is a good employee, has been working with the company for one year and came in at entry level... had previous experience in a slightly related field, but different enough that he needed to go through extensive training when he joined us to learn the ropes. That is fine, btw, and all that I look for as a manager is a good attitude and a desire to learn. If you've got those two things we can make it work. He's definitely got those two qualities.
The only issue I have with him is that his listening skills are poor. I don't mean that he is insubordinate... he is not... it's just that when we are talking in conversation (about something work related) he tends to interrupt a lot and interject things. He can talk and go on long tangents that require me to steer the conversation back to its original point. I often end up repeating myself and asking him to confirm he heard and understood what I just said... which then makes him realize that he didn't absorb what I said and we go over it again.
This doesn't always happen, but most often happens when the subject is a bit "charged", such as talking about a deadline or asking a question about a decision he made. I don't think I am a hard ass by any means, but it is quite obvious that I make him nervous, and I think his nervousness clouds his mind and he turns into a rambling mess. My questions/discussions with him are completely neutral in tone and not disciplinary in nature at all... but I can tell I make him uncomfortable. This is worse when we have to talk on the phone, rather than face to face. He works at various job sites all over the state and is not always in our home office, so while I prefer face to face meetings it is not always possible. Honestly, I've come to dread calling him because it's difficult to have a productive conversation with him over the phone.
There are quite a few big issues going on with the company as a whole that I need to discuss with my staff, and that I need to make sure they understand. Some of the issues have to do with changing some of the protocol that my staff are used to, and beginning to do things a different way. I would like this discussion to be positive and productive, but I am concerned with this guy in particular that he's only going to hear it as criticism (when it's not), and that he will become defensive and talk over me without hearing what I say.
When he talks over me, I usually smile and let him finish his sentence, then begin talking again. I have also tried "So what I hear you saying is..." and paraphrasing what he just said... all he does then is say "Yes that's correct AND..." as he adds a few more things without pausing for a breath!
I've never had to deal with someone who does this before, so I'm out of my element. Any tips that I could use to help us communicate more effectively?
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