I have a new job offer. Since the beginning I have been dealing with the representative of this new employer. This person is knowledgeable and experienced and used to have answers to all my common questions and concerns. But he speaks a lot and gives me no chance to raise concerns and questions. This person takes over the conversation while I am speaking and start saying things. In the entire conversation I didn't get a chance to say what I want to say. Whatever the conversation, in the end he he leads the conversation what ever way he wants.

Now I want to negotiate on the joining/start date. I have already committed for 2 or 3 weeks maximum notice period for my initial interview. But now I would like to increase it to 5 weeks due to family medical and other reasons. I have no chance to say my points.

How can I control the conversation enough to ask this?

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    Email him while he is still talking – amar Nov 25 '13 at 5:32
  • Why is "giving control to him" such an issue? In my book, a conversation is a dance of give and take. Maybe it's cultural? – user8036 Nov 25 '13 at 7:42
  • I think this is more of an issue of conversation techniques. Those rarely get taught outside of sales or maybe HR, but maybe we can collect a few in the answers? – CMW Nov 25 '13 at 8:55
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    Hey BVR, I think we can get this post reopened. I edited a bit to clean up some grammatical issues, but I think we need to address Jan Doggen's comment. Can you perhaps edit to address that point so it's more clear why, for instance, you don't just ask "Can I start in 5 weeks instead of 3". Also, what are you saying exactly to try and start this conversation to where you're getting interrupted? Do you think you're being too wordy when starting the conversation? Hope this helps. – jmort253 Nov 30 '13 at 20:01
  • @JanDoggen: I have not a problem to give him control. The main problem is I am loosing chance to put my points and speak. He cuts down while I am speaking. I need he to listen to my points and then speak. Not grabbing the control while I am speaking – Babu Dec 1 '13 at 5:07

There are two ways to steer a conversation, that could be easily applied in this situation.

One is to lead with questions. You shouldn't do this too aggressively of course, but keep asking questions and you can be sure to steer the conversations. And then ask what they think about your postponing your starting date. Once you're in a flow of asking questions, topics that are important to you easily weave into the conversation.

Alternatively, refocus the conversation. You want to talk about your starting date but they decided to go on with a different topic? Respond with something like: "I do like to talk about this topic in a moment, but first, I want to discuss my question." Then re-state your question.

  • I would also suggest with this to put your hand palm out in front of you (like a cop doing a stop). People are conditioned to stop talking. You can cut in then. (was on a documentary on body language, showing Thatcher using it against reporters). – Simon O'Doherty Nov 25 '13 at 10:07

The major problem you might have is that you are not confident in bringing up the topic. You promised him three weeks, but now have to change it to 5 weeks. It also seems that based on the question you talk to the new boss very often. You let him dominate the conversation, because you are nervous about discussing the change in the start date.

One approach is to craft an email, a very polite email. You might lay out the need to change the start date; or you could say that due to a family medical issue you need to talk to him about the start date. Tell him you will talk to him about the new start date this afternoon. Send the email. Then call him at the time you mentioned.

The email establishes the topic of the conversation. It serves as an agenda. Once this topic has been fully resolved, then you can move onto other topics.


There are two possibilities.

  • New hires don't really have anything to tell their employers, but there is a lot they need to know: what should they bring on the first day, what are the working hours, what should they wear etc. He has grown tired of waiting to be asked these things with long complicated preambles so he has developed the habit of just telling new hires all the information. When a question starts he assumes it's one of the standard ones he's heard thousands of times before and he can't be bothered to listen to you explaining why it's important to know what time you start or whatever, so he just blasts all the answers at you.
  • He actively doesn't want you to change or negotiate anything, and his conversational technique enforces this.

I think the first situation is more likely. In this case all you need to do is get through to him that you have an unusual situation. Call (be sneaky and call after hours to leave a voice mail if you like), email, or stop by, and say "My apologies but I have a family emergency that may delay my start date. Will the 15th be ok?" You don't need a whole pile of "points" to "convince him" - either they will be ok with a delayed date for this reason or they will not, it's a short conversation. By the way you should decide in your heart before the conversation: if they say no, will you decline the job in order to deal with the family situation? Decide in advance so that if they say no you can immediately free them to find a replacement for you.

If you are in the second situation it may be harder to reach this person or to ask him anything. In that case it is even more important to get to the point right away. Do not summarize to him when you were supposed to start, do not tell him the details of the emergency or why this person is important to you or why you are the only one who can deal with it. Just say "I need to change my start date to the 15th to handle a family emergency. Is that ok?" The quicker you get your question out the better chance you will finish it before he interrupts and takes over.

As a general habit I find it serves me well, when talking to superiors, to lead with the headline, not the background. "I need two weeks off starting now." Pause. "I have to [whatever.]" Pause. Then wait to be asked for details. This is more efficient than paragraphs of background before the request. An irritated boss may say no to a reasonable request. A calm boss may save you a ton of time may just say yes right away, or will ask for the information they need. And when asked for information, again provide the most important part first.

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