We all have that one friend. They are great fun; you have a lot in common and enjoy spending time together. The big problem is that they never stop talking! So why do some people talk too much and how to deal with them, especially if you are an introvert?`
Why do people talk incessantly?
People who talk constantly might be trying to calm their nerves. This often comes from a place of wanting to please, and be part of the group. If you are close to someone who rushes to speak, talks so much they become breathless, and seems to be desperate to contribute to every conversation, they might be suffering from anxiety.
Another potential reason someone cannot stop talking is that they have an over-inflated ego. It might be that they genuinely believe their perspective is more interesting than anybody else’s!
3. Lack of personal awareness
Often our most annoying traits are things we are not aware of. It could be that a chatterbox does not realize they talk more than everybody else. They might even be startled to be told this! A lack of personal awareness can lead to somebody being oblivious that they are always dominating the conversation.
How to deal with people who talk too much
1. Is it you?
It is easier to notice flaws in other people than it is in ourselves. Writer Rob Lazebnik, famous for The Simpsons, wrote an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal.
Lazebnik asks us all to evaluate what percentage of the conversation we have been talking for, after a long chat. This self-analysis can help you understand whether you are as good a listener as you hope you are, or whether you too are talking at full steam ahead, and are contributing to the communication breakdown!
2. Tell them
It’s much easier said than done, but if you are struggling to spend time with a friend who talks too much, you could try taking the time to tell them. They may be unaware that this is the case, and would rather know!
There are kind ways to explain to someone you like that their conversation style is grating. Perhaps make a joke of their chattery nature, try phrasing it as a question. For example, ‘that’s interesting, may I share my opinion too, please?’
Anybody who is not deliberately trying to drown out their friends is highly unlikely to reject a request to have input, and it might help them to pause and reflect on how they are making those around them feel unable to speak.
3. Listen with constraints
Everybody likes to be listened to, and yet, allowing another person the time and attention to air their innermost thoughts is a skill that some of us control better than others.
Cutting someone off in their prime isn’t a great way to maintain a friendship, but you do need to establish your parameters. Decide for yourself how long you can commit to listening, and stick to it. Once you have heard enough, need to interject, or are becoming late for your next task, you need to be able to say so, and walk away from the conversation if it shows no signs of abating despite all your hints!
There are subtle ways to do this without being offensive, for example, ‘I have to get going, let’s finish this conversation another time.’
Another emotional skill that can help manage a relationship with an over-talker is empathy.
- Is this person struggling to make themselves understood, and going over the top trying to compensate?
- Are they feeling anxious and trying to ingratiate themselves with a social group?
Try to think about what their perspective is, and reassure them that you understand what they have said, and do not need further explanations or clarifications. If your friend is babbling due to nerves, this might solve the problem in one fell swoop.
5. Find a good time to talk
We can all be a little impatient at times, and it might be that you can find a better time to spend with a person who talks too much but might have a lot to get off of their chest.
If you find yourself becoming irritable and wanting to rush away, then you could try setting up a time to chat when you are not in a hurry to be anywhere else. This resets your conversation in a setting where you can give your full attention, without the stress of not having the time, and give your talkative friend the space to express everything they need to say.
Dealing with people who talk too much for introverts
It is one thing dealing with a seriously chatty colleague; it is quite another trying to manage this relationship if you are an introvert. Socializing is hard enough; so try putting strategies in place to help you cope:
Give yourself an ‘out’
If you find it difficult to break away from a conversation that is going on too long, set yourself up with a reason to leave when you need to. For example, saying ‘Hi, it’s nice to see you. I’m ever so sorry, but I need to dash off so only have a couple of minutes.’
Walk away when you need to
Busy or large social gatherings might feel overwhelming, so don’t feel the need to stick around if it is causing you stress. Be mindful of your feelings, and don’t be afraid to excuse yourself when you need some space.
Manage your interactions
Many introverts find it easier to communicate in a comfortable and familiar place. If you have a friend who takes over every conversation, try meeting at your home, someone you feel relaxed, or with other friends who can deflect some of the conversations. Keeping yourself in control is a great way of avoiding anxiety.
Whether you are an introvert or not, people who talk too much can grate on your nerves and make it tough to retain a good relationship. Try to be as patient as you can, whilst being mindful of your own boundaries. Now and again, you might simply need to walk away, and if this helps protect your stress levels, is the best solution for you.
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