We all know someone who talks too much, who seems boring and self-absorbed, although in my experience talkative people may be extraordinarily kind.
Is it possible that you're one of them?
1. People tell you that you talk too much! That kind of honesty is rare, so if you hear those words, your talking is extreme. You should be embarrassed.
2. In a phone conversation, you notice absolute silence. You haven't heard "uh-huh," or "yeah," in a while. Those affirmations on the other end normally tell us that the listener hasn't gone off to the bathroom. But you didn't catch on until just now--you didn't need any sign of listening life to prattle merrily on! (I'll confess that with certain big talkers I've been known to put down the phone and pick it up again for a strategic "uh huh.")
3. The other person always ends your conversations, and you hang up or leave feeling cut off and lonely, even after a long talk.
4. When starting a conversation, you ask if it's a good time to talk, and hear variations of polite and not-so-polite "No." But you say, "Just let me tell you this one thing and then I'll let you go." Bright red flag!
5. Silence makes you uncomfortable.
6. You wander off on tangents rather than staying on topic.
7. You are detail-oriented and have trouble being concise or skipping ahead in a story.
7. When your listeners begin to fidget, look away, or interrupt you, you can't shut up, even though you know they're impatient.
8. You talk about non work-matters at the office with people with whom you aren't especially close.
9. You feel you have to express your ideas immediately, and love to think aloud with almost anyone.
10. Listening tends to bore you. You're usually just waiting for the other person to stop talking.
11. When you think about a conversation later, you recall what you said--not the response.
12. You've been called "narcissistic," "self-absorbed," "self-involved," or "arrogant." Maybe you aren't, but why do you seem that way?
13. You only get along with people who are unusually quiet. Talkative types make you angry. You feel that you have to constantly fight for your time.
You may love talking so much that you're willing to pay the price. But know the price. You'll do worse in your career and friendships if people feel that you're imposing on them day by day.
Some remedies include:
Stop and ask your conversation-partner, "Am I making sense?" or "What do you think?"
Aim to talk less than 50% of the time, in any conversation.
Manage anxiety. Many people who are anxious use talking as a form of distraction or they may have trouble pulling their thoughts together. Try the gamut of relaxation techniques like yoga, more aerobic exercise, music, absorbing work, or medication.
See conversation as an opportunity to learn and expand your world rather than to express yourself. Ask questions.
Write in a journal. Blogging may help you organize your thoughts.
Talking too much can be a family trait. It is in mine. Chances are, you've also been the one who couldn't wait to get off the phone. Remember those times and try your best not to become your mother or sister.
And remember how much you love her. I miss my overtalkative mother deeply now that she's gone.
Tell yourself (I do): My overtalkativeness does not mean that I'm not lovable. I do need to see myself clearly, change my behavior and address the causes.
Besides anxiety, the cause could be boredom or isolation in your day to day life. If you love words and connections to other people, you don't have to change who you are or what you love. Think of the changes required as simple courtesy.
Also, remember that small changes can make a big change.
My mother was a novelist and playwright. She rarely spoke about her work to me, and when she talked too much about other things, I wish I had remembered more often to ask her about that part of her life. An overtalker may be a writer who isn't writing or getting enough attention for her writing.
Is that you? Find ways to write every day. You've got a lot of words running through your head but it's not fair to others to make them listen to your rough drafts. You'll want to show your writing, if you're extroverted. Seek writer friends and editors.
For editing and writing coaching, contact me at expertediting.org.