I had a chat yesterday with my friend and colleague Trevor who spent the weekend at an exclusive young businessperson development retreat. He was billeted with another conference participant who kept him awake by talking far too long into the morning. I told Trevor he was too nice – he should have just bluntly told the other guy, “Sorry, I’m going to sleep. We can resume our conversation in the morning. Good night.”
It takes two to make a conversation. I have never understood people who complain about other people who “just won’t shut up,” or “talked my ear off,” or “I just couldn’t get off the phone.” You say, “Well, it was nice talking with you,” and walk away. If you can’t walk away, for instance if you’re seated next to them on a plane, say, “Please excuse me, I need to read/work/nap now.” Only a crazy person would continue talking to someone who clearly does not want to be engaged in a dialogue, or listen to a monologue. (I say clearly, because you can’t just hint by yawning, or uttering terse responses, or gazing longingly at your novel. You must tell them unequivocally that you do not wish to talk any more.)
So if only a crazy person will continue to speak to someone who doesn’t want to listen, what the heck are interruption marketers thinking? Is there anyone who gets up from dinner to answer the phone and says, “Yes, I am interested in hearing about your CapitolOne credit card offer!”
Good marketing is a mutually agreed upon activity. You want to tell me about yourself, and I want to listen.