How do I get my lovely employee to shut her trap for a little bit?

Dear Aunty B,

I have an employee who never shuts up.

She finishes everyone’s sentences, jumps in before anyone has finished getting a few words out and is constantly trying to second-guess people. When they ask her not to interrupt, she looks at them and says that she knows what they are going to say.

The other day I told her then to let me say it and stop interrupting, and she got huffy and snooty. It also means she misses stuff because she is obviously so busy thinking about what to say she doesn’t hear that someone said it five minutes ago.

She is a lovely girl, very well meaning, does a great job and so enthusiastic; and we don’t want to dampen her zest for life because she is delightful. But how do we get her to SHUT UP!

Sore ears,



Dear Sore ears,

For goodness’ sakes – tell her to shut up. It’s not hard.

It’s performance review time, huh? So you sit her down. Tell her you are going to do an exercise with her. Then say this: “I want you just to sit there for a minute.” And then sit there. Calmly. Look at her, look around the room and wait. Within 30 seconds she will say something because she will find it so uncomfortable. Then you point out that she is missing something. Tell her the point of that exercise was to get her to be still, to quieten her mind so she could figure stuff out. But, instead, her fear of silence, her insecurity that stops letting others speak, means she is missing stuff.

Now tell her to relax, still her mind, to quieten all the thoughts racing through her brain. Sit there with her for a minute in silence. And then ask her is her brain empty? No thoughts racing around about what she needs to say? Then start speaking. Run through all her good points and, if she tries to speak, remind her that she has stilled her mind so she can really listen.

At the end, tell her that there is one area where she can improve. She needs to still her mind and listen hard before she comments. And that will mean, firstly, she talks at least half as much as she does now and, secondly, that people will listen to her because she will have something thoughtful to add.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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