Everyone likes to be heard. There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to know your opinions, or how you feel. However, expressing yourself can be a bad thing when it begins to annoy the people around you or cause yourself personal embarrassment. Also part of being a good friend is being able to listen. If you’re worried that you might talk too much, please read this article.
Steps to Evaluate Whether You Talk Too Much
1. Assess a conversation. So, you just met your friend for lunch and are worried you may have dominated the conversation…again. Honestly and in an unbiased manner, replay the lunch date in your head. Ask yourself some questions like; “Who truthfully did the majority of the talking?”, “Did we talk more about me or about my friend?”, “How often did I interrupt my friend?” This will help you to see clearly whether or not you talk a lot in comparison to other people. Don’t limit these “replay sessions” to your social circle. think about the way you talk to EVERYONE. Including–but not limited to–your boss, co-workers, mother, and the restaurant help.
2. Assess the way you are most likely to begin a conversation. Do you open conversation by jumping in with a funny story of your life and your observations, without being asked, or are you likely to ask someone a question and let them tell you a story, tell you about their life and their observations?
3. Pay attention to body language. Do people sometimes roll their eyes when you start to talk, or maybe tap their foot impatiently? Do people begin to phase out when you begin to elaborate on something? Do people simply nod their head and throw out irrelevant “Yeahs” and “Uh-huhs”? Or worse, do people sometimes ignore you completely when you get on a verbal roll, turn the other way and start a conversation with the next person? These are some good indicators of whether you bore people by talking too much. If signs like these are consistent factors in your conversations, you probably talk too much.
4. Keep count of all the times you accidentally say more than you mean to say. Do you find yourself often giving away bits of information you don’t mean to? A friend’s confidence, or your own (sometimes embarrassing) problems? Or maybe you let slip rude or hurtful opinions of people. Note how often this occurs in day-to-day conversations.
Steps to Fix the Problem
You’ve decided you DO talk too much and want to do something about it; here are some suggestions of how to do this:
1. Make a conscious effort to listen more and talk less. Listening shows you are interested in the other person and what they have to say. People will be flattered by a good listener, because secretly, everyone loves to talk about themselves. There is no topic that interest them more than themselves. Remember, if you allow them to talk, and ask them lots of follow-up questions, they will think you are a brilliant conversationalist without you needing to say much. Some people seem to think that by talking the most, they must be the best conversationalist. By the same token, if a dinner guest take more than half of the food on the table offered for a group, would you consider them a great guest? Or rude, selfish and posessing a lack of social skills?
2. Don’t fill all the dead air. This is especially true in a group setting, pauses are sometimes another person’s thinking time. Some people like to take a moment to think and compose their answer carefully. Don’t feel you need to jump in at every pause. This will lead to you talking for more than your fair share, and others will feel that you are interrupting them. Allow 5 seconds, look around, and if nobody seems to want to speak, ASK a question. Don’t jump in with a “funny” story, ask people about themselves.
3. Remember a good conversation is like a back-and-forth rally. If someone asks you a question (e.g. “How was your holiday?”), after you have given your reply about your great trip and experience, return the favor by asking a question (e.g. “how about you, are you planning to go on any trips this year?”, “Enough about me, how was your week? How are the wife and kids?”).
4. Slow down. Sometimes people simply get excited and begin an overwhelming monologue. They’re so into what they have to say, they forget that you need TWO people to hold a conversation. This is selfish. Sometimes all it takes is a quick mental note to calm down. Take a deep breath and collect yourself before breaking your oh-so-amazing news to your friends. In essence, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Truthfully, your special story will have more impact if you take time time think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
5. For goodness’s sake, STOP INTERRUPTING PEOPLE. Interrupting people is an insipid, self-centered and widely excused habit of the majority of the world’s population. People have been desensitized to this egotistical way of carrying on a conversation. It’s now commonplace to find oneself rudely and callously cut off from finishing your sentences, only to find one’s fellow converser interjecting with their own personal stories, thoughts, or commentaries. A practice which basically states “I don’t find you interesting enough, and so I’m just going to say what I want to say.” This is a simple, awful way to disregard the most basic rule of human interaction; respect. So the next time you are in a conversation, no matter what it is about, listen. I mean, REALLY listen. Personal input is a wonderful way to express oneself, but never at the expense of the other person’s feelings. So go for it, this is a wonderful way to gain the revered honor of becoming a “good listener.”
6. Consider the cause/effect: Ask yourself why you’re so chatty. Do you seldom have an opportunity to be heard? Are you lonely? Too much caffeine? Are you often pressed for time and have adapted by increasing your rate of speech? Also, consider the effect- fast talkers and long-winded talkers tend to overwhelm and exhaust others and themselves. When you catch yourself talking too much, try to take a moment to check in with yourself- take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can “reset” your speaking habits if you slow down and work at it.
Breaking yourself of bad habits or poor manners takes time. Don’t get discouraged. It’s wise to ask a close friend for support. It can’t hurt to have a coach.
Please, please, don’t stop talking! Talking is a beautiful form of interaction, and a good marking of a “social butterfly.” But remember, everyone wants their turn in a conversation. It’s time to go back to that long forgotten pre-school lesson of sharing.
Training Resource: Empathic Listening. Communication is said to be the most important skill in life. And effective communication always comes down to one thing — mutual understanding. Based on the premise “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood,” this program explains empathic listening and shows how it helps us understand and successfully communicate with others.