Having spent years dealing with a family member who is one of the most one of the most dominating talkers of all time … in terms of going on for literally hours, jumping subjects, etc. & so on … And from a culture where conversation and politeness are everything …
First and foremost, you have to consider yourself the most important person in the conversation, even though the other party does not. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. It’s just the attitude you need to have.
You must interrupt, talk over, cheerfully and with a smile. Firmly and assertively, smiling. “Sorry to interrupt!” Smiling while setting limits can smooth over many things.
Magic words and phrases: “Later.” “Hold that thought.” “I have to get on with this now, but let’s talk more later.” “I have to go because I’m late, but maybe we can talk later.” You aren’t saying “no”, you aren’t openly rejecting, but you are freeing yourself to walk away.
You must physically move away from them. Smiling. This. Is. Critical. You must turn your back while smiling, you must walk away, smiling. Even if they are still talking. You already told them you have to move away and we’ll talk later. Your personal location is everything – you have to move out of their vocal reach.
Do not worry about their feelings. Are they worried about yours? Circle one: Yes. No.
You can come back to them, or not. There is no actual ‘later’ to any of these social niceties. Also you can invent whatever you claim is calling you away (it should be vague). You just have to go, to maintain the importance of your needs, as well as theirs.
To help yourself with the mindset, consider that while the chatty party may not be openly rude, nonetheless they are imposing, they are rudely ignoring your needs and time.
In fact, they are meeting their own needs at the expense of yours. Make sense? One of you is getting their needs met, the other is not (you). And I personally believe that they know it, and don’t care about your situation, just their own. Anyway, whatever is the truth, it can help steel your backbone to think so.
You. Must. Behave in ways that would be considered “rude” in other more ‘normal’ contexts, but it’s ok because they are being rude by treating your time and attention as if theirs matters and yours doesn’t.
Not by speaking to them in a rude way (not necessary), but by firmly imposing boundaries in the most polite and neutral way possible.
“Hold that thought, I need to get something from the tack room and I’ll be right back.” (Take as long as you can to come back. They might leave! But they will get it that you aren’t enthralled by their conversation.)
Same for when you are going and not coming back. “Sorry to interrupt!” Talk right over them, loud-ishly to be heard, in an assertive tone. “I’ve got to get on with my ride now. Let’s talk again later!” Later = Never.
Turn and WALK AWAY with your back to them to retrieve (or put away) your item (or ride your horse, or go home), AS THEY KEEP TALKING. DO NOT LOOK BACK AT THEM. KEEP GOING AND DO YOUR THING. They try to impede you from getting on with your tasks by not offering a conversation opener to do so? Well they can stand there and wait on you, if it’s that important.
You can also physically re-route your locations to avoid them and avoid discomfort, if it comes to that. Tack up at your trailer, if you have one, or somewhere with no foot traffic. Things like that. I’ve got grooming stuff organized very portably so that I can do stuff anywhere.
If you are thinking that you setting boundaries will be hard, because they are a friend – No, they are not a great friend. Friends don’t treat each other with such a lack of respect and consideration. It’s not your job to prop up a friendship that doesn’t have as much consideration for you as you have for them. That’s a friend you can live without, if it comes to it.
Be a bit selfish about your feelings – what’s the downside to you to setting boundaries and freeing yourself of their demands on your time? Probably - none? All upside, in fact?
Be consistent. Always. This sets expectations for them. They need clear expectations since they don’t pick up on other people’s limits, and likely don’t want to unintentionally burn bridges. They are likely to become much more respectful if they do want to maintain your friendship. As well as you maintaining theirs.
We probably all have a friend or family member who is great at enforcing boundaries. Who calls things for what they are. Who isn’t worried about what others think of them. Said friend or family member is your role model for these situations.
You can care about a friend or family member who is difficult. Someone who is imposing, leaving you in a position of enforcing boundaries. And still look after yourself, first. In fact, the relationship will probably be a better one once you do set some limits.
Good luck! I hope this helps, at least a little.
[I developed these thoughts for other family members who don’t even want to talk with a particularly dominating talker. Because what was supposed to be a nice 30 minute chat could easily turn into 3 hours, and very one-sided. People didn’t know how to free themselves! I spent the most time with that person, and had to figure it out.]