Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Give It A Rest

Yes, everyone knows about your knowledge or skill area. They know your likes and dislikes. They know what you are passionate about. They know what you are most interested in at work. They know. But they may be tired of having you interject the topic into every conversation or attempting to make yourself and your work relevant to every project or program.

There are several reasons most of us tend to bring things back to our areas of interest–sometimes to the point of being irritating.

  • It is on our minds a lot, so it’s just natural that it comes out in our conversations.
  • Because of our knowledge we may realize how the subject fits and can see the value of others being aware of it.
  • We may want to sell ourselves or our department or section so we never miss a chance to mention the importance of our work.
  • When it comes to philosophies and ideas, we may be so committed to a cause that we think others agree and want to discuss it as well.
  • We may think that just one more logical argument from us will persuade someone we know doesn’t agree with us.
  • We may be a one-tune person or employee without much else to talk about or without other areas of expertise.
  • We may incorrectly think everything revolves around us or our work.  

Whatever is the reason for you, it may be irritating to others. Listen for hints–maybe said with a joking tone–that people were just waiting for you to bring the subject around to your pet topic. Watch for smiles, rolled eyes, heavy sighs or other indicators. If it seems your comments are often met with, “Yeah, yeah, we know. Let’s move on”, consider if you are becoming very predictable in your remarks. Even if your comments are valid, once you’ve lost your listeners, communication isn’t taking place. 

Alternatives To The Same Old Song

  • If you believe your comment or expertise is really needed but others are not listening, acknowledge that you may sound repetitious but you believe it’s important. If you continue to be shut down, talk to your manager or supervisor in private about it and ask for advice.
  • Talk to someone you respect about their suggestions for how to express your thoughts in ways that don’t get remarks like, “I wondered how long it would take for you to bring it around to that.” 
  • Review your conversations and ask yourself if you simply have run that topic into the ground with everyone. If there is even a chance that you have, give it a rest.
  • Wait and see if others bring it up and ask you about it–always the best indicator of influence and acceptance.
  • Purposely measure out the number of times you mention your recurring issue or topic.
  • Purposely look for other examples, situations or illustrations. Gain expanded perspectives so you have more than one viewpoint or one experience.

Of course, when lives, ethics, big money or other serious consequence are at stake we may need to push every time to make sure the right things are done.  However, those situations nearly always involve more than a routine meeting or conversation. In most work situations we don’t need to sound like a broken record to get ourselves noticed, our work valued or our opinions expressed. If you think you do, deal with that first.

January 8th, 2011 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 12 comments


  1. You’ve been at one of our meetings, right? We could record it and use the same comments for every meeting. Three people talk about the same things every time, no matter what the topic. The rest of us take bets on how long it will take for them to bring up the topic that is near and dear to their hearts. Unfortunately, now we start laughing when they do it, which I know isn’t nice, but it’s hard to resist.

    Comment by UofAProud | January 8, 2011

  2. This applies to politics, religion, work gripes, diet, kids and the others things that some people never stop talking about. I could say the sky is falling and one person I know would say it was the fault of her ex-husband, and it would remind another person that she needs to lose some weight. I want to ask them if they ever have any other thoughts!

    Comment by R. S. D. | January 9, 2011

  3. Good reminder.

    Comment by Chris P. | January 9, 2011

  4. I saw this after reading about the Arizona shooting. Seems like a lot of people want to use it to talk about their political pet peeve instead of just saying how awful it is and realizing this could have been against a teacher, preacher or business person since he seemed to hate everyone and in this case killed other people too. I get so tired of hearing about party politics or left versus right. Give it a rest.

    Comment by Wiseacre | January 10, 2011

  5. As someone has said, it’s ironic to see the hateful messages on the Internet surrounding the shooting in Arizona. In my office right now everyone who rants all the time is ranting about their point of view as though that had anything to do with this. Our supervisor just came around and told two of them to cool it. Should send them home!

    Comment by AngelHeart | January 10, 2011

  6. Perfect timing for this. I’ve forwarded it to several people who have also forwarded it.

    Comment by denisek | January 10, 2011

  7. One of the signs of mental instability or at the least emotional disturbance is obsessive angry or emotional talking, like a broken record as you point out. That’s something we should all be aware about in our work or families. If someone is merely “ranting” for attention, they need to be stopped because of the concern they cause others, if for no other reason. This is an issue that our clients have complained about and we screen for this now.

    Comment by careerist | January 10, 2011

  8. Hello Tina! I don’t want to identify where I work, but I did want to comment on this. I think management sometimes puts people in a situation where they feel like if they don’t push their section all the time, they won’t be viewed as important and might be eliminated or reduced. I know I tend to always mention my section and try to “sell it” as needed for everything, even though sometimes I know it’s a stretch. I just wanted to give you another viewpoint of it, if you were meaning that kind of situation.

    Comment by P.K. | January 10, 2011

  9. Tina says: Thanks for your comments. I’ve written an email to each of you.

    P.K., I agree with your concern that in some workplaces people feel they must always sell themselves or be left behind. Every workplace is different of course, but usually when you do high quality work that has repeatedly been shown to be useful, others will be eager to know how you can help them again. The problem is when someone mostly only talks themselves up but doesn’t actually provide the value they claim. That’s a simplified look at it, I know. However, I do think it’s possible to stay part of the picture without being excessive.

    Someone sent me an email about the supervisor of a section who talked as though the whole business hinged on whether or not he and his one employee was involved in everything, no matter what it was. Sometimes he is almost funny but most of the time his pugnacious approach causes bad feelings.

    Thanks again for your comments! I love to hear from readers!

    Comment by TLR | January 10, 2011

  10. Had to write to say how much I want to send this to some people. Some of them work with me and some of them are in the news. I saw your headline at about the same time I felt like yelling it at the TV.(I didn’t yell, but I did feel like it.)

    Comment by 90119 | January 12, 2011

  11. Tina, I have been reading and listening to the hate-filled comments of so many in America right now and am praying for a change of spirit and heart within us. I believe if all the hateful words that keep being repeated and repeated without pause were put together, we would have a good picture of Hell.

    If anyone doesn’t think Satan moves among us, all that person has to do is open their eyes and ears to the hate that is so active in our country and around the world.

    One thing that has drawn me to your website for the last three years is that you can discuss problems and express your feelings about them but you always give options or ways to help people avoid the problems. I appreciate you and always keep you in my prayers. Don

    Comment by Don R. | January 13, 2011

  12. Just now saw this. I once read that most people talk about the same five things over and over. You may be the one who told me that.

    Comment by Mike | January 14, 2011

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