You’re in the office and you’ve just asked the new guy or girl to complete a basic task. After waiting 30 minutes for what should have taken 10, you start to wonder whether they’ll ever come back. Whilst you impatiently glance at your watch you can see the same colleague walking towards you out of the corner of your eye.

You look closer only to realize don’t seem to have completed your task yet. Before you have the chance to ask what has happened there come the excuses. They explain EVERY reason (in detail) about why they couldn’t complete your basic request.

In another scenario, perhaps you’ve been put under the management of someone who has very recently been promoted.

They brief you on your task which you grasp very quickly (as it’s something you’re very familiar with) and yet for whatever reason unbeknown to you, they won’t let you get on with it.

They repeat over and over, with snippets of irrelevant information as though they just can’t get enough of the sound of their own voice.

Perhaps they don’t have very many people to talk to?

Perhaps they think I’m deaf?

…or an idiot?

No amount of “Yep, got it” or “I’ll get that done right away” seems to push these people off. They ignore your non-verbal cues which suggest ‘Yeah I get it stupid’ and continue to over-explain until what seemed like a straightforward concept now feels like rocket science.

You start to feel the frustration of having someone waste your valuable time. Sound familiar?

In this article we are going to outline our favorite 8 Scripts to deal with the ‘Over Explainer’ at Work:

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

Script 1 | Demonstrate Understanding 


Sorry for interrupting you [Insert Name], it’s not necessary to you explain everything, I just need to know where we are with this to plan accordingly.
I get the feeling you’re under a lot of pressure- is that the case?

Often when somebody starts to over-explain in a defensive way it is a sign of them feeling pressured.

The person may subconsciously see themselves as inferior and project an image of themselves being the lower end of the hierarchy when there’s no need to.

By telling them they’re unnecessarily trying to prove themselves when they’ve already jumped the tough hurdle (by securing the role in the first place) they main gain perspective and relax a little.

Script 2 | The Polite(ish) Shut Down


Excuse me [Insert Name] but honestly, I’m really busy right now. Can you try to cut your story a bit shorter?

With this method you should be a little bit careful, as you could cause offense, but if you are in a situation where you really don’t have the time to talk about things that don’t matter to you it may be the best choice. Keep your tone soft and friendly and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Time is money so when the person over-explaining their situation to you is not even a person that you” have to deal with very often, just shut them down in a polite way.

If you want to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the "Coaching Employees through Difficult Situations" video course from LinkedIn Learning.
Click here for full access to "Coaching Employees through Difficult Situations" On LinkedIn Learning
In this course, leadership consultants Lisa Earle McLeod and Elizabeth McLeod help new and experienced managers address some of the most frequent coaching challenges. Learn how to motivate employees who have been demoted or promoted, as well as how to effectively coach employees who have big egos or simply don't want to be coached- all from the comfort of your laptop.

Script 3 | Ask for a Clear Answer


Sorry for interrupting you [Insert Name] but were you trying to say yes or no?

A lot of people tend to really start to over-explain due to their insecurities. Often in uncomfortable situations, people naturally tend to try to over-explain themselves when they think you’re not going to like the answer. Prompt them to get to the point.

Script 4 | Use Sarcasm


Yes, I can understand what you are talking about, I also recently had problems with finding the toilet in this office. Two days ago, I couldn’t find it, then I asked [Insert Name] and found it, but when I went there the door was locked.

When using strategies like this it is important that you already have developed a good relationship with your colleague as this can either be seen as banter or outright disrespect.

A little imitation will show irritating the behavior can be. It’s probably best to inject a bit of humor and light-heartedness to avoid getting into trouble with people.

Script 5 | Be Dismissive of Excuses  


Thanks for letting me know, but I don’t need to know all the details.

A good option can also be to tell them that you don’t need to know everything and that you trust and value their decision-making skills. Even if from time to time they’re going to make mistakes.

We all make mistakes, and you won’t be chopping off their head anytime soon so, to get them to ease up, why not let them know? If you use this script for a longer time, the person will eventually gain confidence.

Script 6 | When They Love The Sound of Their Own Voice  


I really don’t want to stop you [Insert Name] from talking, but there are a lot more people in this group discussion. So, do you mind cutting it a little bit short, so that everybody else has the same time to share the things they want to say?

This script would be the best script one could use if you are in a group discussion at work. In group discussions, you don’t have the time for over-explainers.

This is the script for those who appreciate efficiency. You don’t even have to be the leader of the group; others are likely to appreciate you creating space for others to express their opinions; especially if what was discussed was not leading anywhere.

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Script 7 | A Lack of Confidence  


[Insert Name] I really don’t mean to be offensive, but I have noticed that when you start to go too much into detail you just come across as insecure.

People that are frequently justifying themselves all the time are most likely people with insecurities. Looking back at the example of the introduction it is just very apparent, that a too-detailed description of your previous decisions just states how hard of a time you have with just cutting it short precise, and clear. Tell your colleague that instead of telling a long story, they would seem a lot more authentic if they would just get straight go to the point.

Script 8 | Just Be Direct  


Excuse me [Insert Name], but could we just get back to the point?
I’m not trying to stop you from talking but I think we really have more important things to discuss about right now.

An important word to emphasize in this script is the “we” by using the word we in this case, your co-worker is going to react less sensitive to your statement.

This script is a quick and easy way to bring a conversation back to its original point and puts the blame on both of you in a diplomatic way.

Chances are high that we’ve all been guilty of over-explaining at work and there’ll always be people who love to dominate a conversation. In order to maintain productivity and a pleasant working environment, it’s important to rain in the motormouth action where appropriate. Hopefully, we’ve given you some strategies you can use to deal with those who just don’t know when to stop. Eventually, even the most annoying over-explainer will become a more confident and direct person.

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.  

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

Article by Never the Right Word

Scripts & Templates for Life’s Uncomfortable Conversations. Learn more about NTRW here. NTRW is supported by adverts and affiliate marketing links. For more info, please see our Earnings Disclosure.

This site does not constitute legal, mental, or medical health advice, please consult a competent licensed professional. If you have questions please Contact Us.

Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

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