An Open Letter to People Who Talk Too Much
What is the reward for dominating conversations?
Posted Apr 20, 2017
Dear person who has been talking for six-and-a-half minutes without taking a breath,
I am writing on behalf of everyone who has ever sat across from you and wondered if there was any end to the stream of words pouring from your mouth. And I am putting it in writing because I can’t seem to force a word in edgewise in this...well, I hesitate to call it a "conversation."
I know that telling people they talk too much is considered rude — although is it really any ruder than drowning your listener in words?
In situations like this, I remind myself that talking too much is often an anxiety thing, that you’re just spewing all this information at me because you’re nervous and letting words out is a pressure release. With this in mind, I try to keep my head in sympathetic mode and to somehow exude calming vibes that might allow you to relax, so this onslaught will taper off.
It's not working.
And so I sit here, nodding, eyes glazed, trying to quell the panic building in my gut. And I wonder how it is you don’t notice my unfocused gaze, the muscle working in my jaw, the many times my mouth has opened hopefully — grasping at any perceived opportunity to squeeze out a thought — and then shut again, as your run-on sentences run on and on and on in a marathon monologue.
Please, I beg you with the salt of a thousand tears: Stop talking.
Honestly, I don’t think I produce as many words in a week as you have produced in the [surreptitiously checks time] 12 minutes we’ve been sitting here. Do your stories really require this level of detail? Do you really expect me to follow you down every rabbit hole of your thoughts? Do you really imagine I am enraptured by tales of your cousin’s wife’s first divorce?
What are you accomplishing here? If we are all, as humans, motivated by rewards, what is the reward for you in monopolizing conversations? Really, I’m asking. Because I don’t understand.
Of course, I am an extreme opposite: I tend to say only as much as necessary to get my point across and then stop. Sometimes I stop even before my point is clear, and other people must prompt me to finish my sentences. I’m not in love with the sound of my own voice, and I get embarrassed when I find myself rambling, which I sometimes do. But all in all, I'd rather listen — up to a point.
And this makes your barrage of words even more baffling to me. How do you even do it? How do you keep talking so long and so hard for [checks time again] 17 solid minutes? Aren’t you tired yet?
The sad thing is: I like you. You’re a good person, and kind, with a sharp mind and a quick wit. And so it truly pains me that after about 10 minutes with you, I would chew off my own leg to escape. It saddens me that this personality quirk, shall we call it, makes genuine friendship between us impossible.
I’m sorry to have to say all this. And I hope that not everyone feels as I do about you and your words. I hope that your life is filled with people who hang on your every utterance, from the first to the forty-seven thousandth.
But I’m afraid I’m not among them. My head is now filled to bursting with all your words, and I don’t think I can stand it anymore.
I’m opening my mouth…
I’m interrupting you...
“Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.”
And I’m outta here.
Be sure to check out my book, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After.
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