No no, please, come dominate our pleasant conversation

I have particular sympathy for people in this situation, since groups with good chemistry are both a joy and a rarity: “I meet several times a week for coffee with a group of men to swap stories and jokes with occasional forays into politics and philosophy. The coffee klatch was a very rewarding part of my social schedule. That is, until the arrival of a new member who won’t shut up. Mr. Talkathon leaps into the conversation repeatedly, tells boring stories of his career, interrupts at will and talks over others’ conversation. It’s gotten to the point where several members stay home. Even worse, he makes some of us not like ourselves because we are forced to occasionally be rude to him.

“You’d think we could confront Mr. Talkathon and ask him tone it down, but I doubt he’ll ever change (he’s not young). Can you suggest any kindly-but-effective way to salvage our once-pleasant coffee klatch?”

I get questions like this frequently. What cruelty-free suggestions would you make not just to this writer, but also to anyone dealing with an oblivious (i.e., not malicious) interloper?

— Carolyn Hax

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