You can compare a good conversation to a fine wine or gourmet meal, emphasizing the quality provided to both individuals involved in the discussion. Unfortunately, even with conversation, you can be on the receiving end of too much of a good thing. If you know a guy who talks too much, you may feel frustrated or angry, because you can't get a word in edgewise. You may wonder if anything you have to say holds any kind of importance for him. Healthy relationships are based on equality in valuing the other person and that includes caring enough to listen.
Learn to be a good listener, but not one who allows someone to dominate conversations. In this respect, attempt to lead by example. At the same time, you are also refusing to continue to allow the guy to overtake and run with conversations. Interrupt at times when he pauses briefly or when you have the opportunity to add something to the conversation. Interruption isn't necessarily rude, as long as it's you ask politely "Do you mind if I interject here?" Your alternative to balancing listening with sharing is to be just a listener, which leads to an imbalance in communication.
Express your feelings about the guy's behavior, specifically his tendency to talk too much. Without expressing your feelings, no matter how negative they may appear, you are not having a truly honest relationship, explains the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in their online guide "Expressing Feelings." Always begin a statement with the word "I," and continue with specific facts about how you feel and why. Avoid blaming or inferring intention, which can not only shut down a conversation, it can cause the end of your relationship or friendship. Follow your "I" statement with a statement that the guy needs to change the problem behavior in a negotiated way.
End conversations with the mention of something about you that ties your experience to his. A guy who talks too much may do so because he feels compelled to be interesting, engaging or distracting enough for you to focus away from him, explains licensed social worker F. Diane Barth of Psychology Today in the online publication "What Makes People Talk Too Much?" Balance the conversation by interjecting your own experience that ties into what he has been discussing. This might also provide him with a measure of comfort in sharing a more balanced conversation in the future.
Physically limit the duration and frequency of your conversations with him. Politely excuse yourself with a reason why you need to end a conversation. Additionally, if the guy who talks too much attempts to engage in conversation when you aren't prepared or interested, it's more polite to explain that you don't have time than to force yourself to endure a lengthy conversation. Limiting the conversations is also a means of establishing emotional and interpersonal boundaries. These boundaries vary with each individual and help to protect you from undesired behaviors, explains Johnson State College Vermont in their online publication "Things You Should Know About Boundary Setting."
- University of California at Davis: Communication Skills
- Working Resources: Dealing With Difficult People
- College of Saint Benedict, Saint John's University: Effective Listening
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Expressing Feelings
- Psychology Today: What Makes People Talk Too Much?
- Johnson State College Vermont: Things You Should Know About Boundary Setting
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images