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I'm on really good terms with my colleague, we go for lunch every day, we run our department and we communicate efficiently. However, he keeps telling me about xy all the time and I kind of am starting to get a bit tired of it. It's a really pleasant subject to him and matters a lot to him.

Also I know I'm not good at being sensitive so I don't want to risk coming across as rude when I would ask that perhaps we could talk about something else.

How can I say this politely?

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    What is xy? Is that some sort of placeholder for a topic you don't want to name here or is xy the proper name of something? – Glen Pierce Jan 15 '18 at 15:19
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    I would suggest to let him keep talking about xy from time to time even if it bores you a bit. If he is passionate about this topic, this will ensure that your relationship stays good. If you really want to learn how to change a topic without giving offense, you should post a question on interpersonal.stackexchange.com. Such techniques are not really specific to the workplace. – Roland Jan 15 '18 at 15:25
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    @GlenPierce XY problem - Basically it's when you get fixed more by a solution than the problem it's attempting to solve. – Snow Jan 15 '18 at 15:53
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    It's Bitcoin, obviously. – Chaotic Jan 15 '18 at 16:57
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    @Chaotic it could be veganism or marathon running or Crossfit – Carson63000 Jan 15 '18 at 23:34
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How can i say this politely?

"We have been talking a lot about INSERT TOPIC HERE, can we talk about something else please?"

After that is said, bring up a topic that will be mutually interesting to you both, and start a new conversation.

If they refuse to stop talking about INSERT TOPIC HERE, find someone else to eat lunch with.

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    Without knowing what 'xy' is related to, this still might come across as rude, what if it's about his colleagues newly born child. Parents can be very touchy when told they talk to much about their kids etc. I like this approach but I think without more context it's still a risky response to the topic 'xy'. – Digitalsa1nt Jan 15 '18 at 16:10
  • @Digitalsa1nt check out the link in my comment above. It tells you what xy is. – Snow Jan 15 '18 at 16:10
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    @Snow how sure are you that OP is referring to the "XY problem" and not just to some topic he's dubbed 'xy'. Why would the "XY problem" be a "pleasant subject to him and matters a lot to him", that seems an odd statement to associate with it wouldn't you agree. Or are you telling me I should apply the "XY problem" to my critique of this answer? – Digitalsa1nt Jan 15 '18 at 16:16
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    @Digitalsa1nt I assumed that from the makeup of the question and the fact that the OP is active on stackoverflow. – Snow Jan 15 '18 at 16:18
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    @Snow I’m pretty sure it’s a placeholder- the question doesn’t really make much sense if he’s talking about the XY problem... – Tim Jan 15 '18 at 16:33
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Just tell him straight (and mess with his head a little at the same time).

Yeah, I know you're really into XY, but I'm concerned that you're getting fixated by this more than the problem it's trying to solve.

While he's trying to untangle this train of thought, surprise him by changing the subject.

  • And if he discusses this with someone else and they don't feel he is "fixated" on this subject, then you become the problem. If you want to tell it to him straight, just say you prefer to talk about something else. – user8365 Jan 16 '18 at 16:25
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First of all let him talk a little about his favor subject, as long it is not offensive to you. He would appreciate it and this will strengthen the friendship. Then, after a few minutes change into a subject that is mutually interesting by saying something like "Meanwhile, what to you thing about ZZ ..."

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