I Can Relate

The joys and challenges of relating with others.

Why We Can't Keep Our Mouths Shut

All of us have moments when we can’t help ourselves and we blurt out things we ultimately regret. Understanding the underlying reasons for blurting gives us the insight we need to stop it. Read More

A Blurter

Over the years, I’ve employed a few techniques to help regain composure when something or someone has set me off. If the event was triggered via an email, I immediately write a response. A scathing response! But I don’t send it. I keep it in my draft folder. This serves two purposes: one, it affords me some time to
calm down and reassess the situation. Often, after a few hours, and I’ve had a chance to reread my response, I just delete it. Other times, I edit/modify and send it on. The second reason to wait before reacting is; many times, other recipients who were on the original email will have responded, either defusing the situation or have taken on the battle themselves. If the situation comes about during a meeting, hallway exchange, or phone call, again, I don’t respond immediately if other people are party to the verbal exchange. When I get back to my desk, I compose an email response and place it in my draft folder and follow the same procedure previously described. You need to judge each situation as they happen and respond appropriately. Some moments call for putting someone in their place then-and-there. Other times, restraint is called for. Just think twice before you react. - from "A Lifetime Working with Idiots & How to Survive". Visit: www.WorkingWithIdiots.net

re: A Blurter

I really like this, Douglas. Thanks for sharing!

A Blurter

Interesting. I would consider a "blurter" a conflict seeking person, but it seems reasonable that by sabotaging the communication they are actually avoiding a conflict. Thanks for sharing Dr. Reeder.


Thanks for your comment, Dave. I see what you are saying. Some blurts may be a way of "ending" a conflict (at least for now) since others will be intimidated to engage with us in dialogue.


Most people who escalate arguments seem more prone to personalizing the content. Hence, for them the concept of framing the argument gets muddy. Also, I've found that it's better to use humor when appropriate, as it has a way of dialing down the conflict. Avoiding those who invariably "push buttons" is a good thing as well.

re: personal

Thanks for your comment about personalizing. The research article I'm referencing here found that higher levels of blurting are associated with higher levels of neuroticism. Since neuroticism is characterized by "anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy, and jealousy," personalizing theoretically makes sense.

Many people have commented to me that they used to be blurters but aren't anymore, so we can develop new mental, emotional, and communication skills if we're motivated to do so.

Heidi, this is nothing new.

Heidi, this is nothing new. Conflict is part of any workplace communication. To be fair, it sounds like you took one miniscule sliver out of a mountain of context in order to make it sound like you are correct and the other person is wrong. Instead of passing judgement like this, you'd make the point stronger if you showed an understanding of how complicated workplace conflict is. There are a lot of books and workshops on conflict if you are interested in learning more. It would help you make your point and not just take the easy way out in your analysis, by watering this down to "this person is so right, and this person is so wrong."

"Blurters" aren't the same as "those who think and then speak the truth"

Concerned about the interpretations in this blog post, I read the Hample et al. article you referenced. I suggest you read it again because you misinterpret what a "blurter" is. Blurters are a small part of the population. Those who think and then speak--even curse-- truthfully though possibly hurting other people's feelings are far from blurters. Blurters "say the first (only) thing that occurs to them." It sounds like your example is only one statement from a much bigger conversation. I doubt that person is a blurter.

Sometimes it's easier to tell the reading audience just a little so you (the writer/blogger) sound educated. I would rather have the blogger do a solid reading of the article he/she is referencing and then interpret. Unfortunately most of your readers might just take you at your word, which in this case is inaccurate. I suggest you write a retraction.

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Heidi Reeder, Ph.D., is an associate professor of communication at Boise State University.


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