If you have to ask if you talk too much, you probably already know the answer to your question. Some people who talk too much have an underlying issue, while others just haven’t mastered the give-and-take of conversation. Although people often make light of the problem, talking too much can have negative consequences.
How Excessive Talking Is Perceived
Talking too much might not rise above an annoyance, but if excessive talking is compulsive and masking other problems, it can affect your personal relationships and your career. Although low self-esteem, anxiety or even a serious problem like attention deficit disorder might explain your need to dominate every conversation, the behavior can make friends and co-workers think you are rude, insensitive and selfish, according to psychologist Offra Gerstein in her Relationships Matters article "How to Deal With a Compulsive Talker." Often people see excessive talkers as lacking self-discipline or unable to keep confidences. While rambling on, you likely divulge too much personal information and fail to hear what others are saying.
How to Know
Excessive talkers often interrupt others to switch the focus of conversation to themselves or to steer the conversation off in an unrelated direction. You might notice that listeners lose interest and seem to be hurrying you along. If you've developed a reputation for talking too much, you may notice others avoiding you. If your listeners seem to glaze over and lose interest, you may be talking on and on without realizing it. Sometimes, a person will tell you plainly that you should let someone else talk. Ask yourself if the excessive talking feels compulsive. Do you often feel like you can’t stop talking once you stop?
Practice daily, mindful strategies to change your behavior. Pay attention to cues from other people, who will let you know in subtle ways if you are monopolizing the conversation. Understand what motivates your rambling and why you are desperate to prevent interruption. You might be trying too hard to explain yourself or to forestall what you perceive as criticism. Break down the length of time you speak into 30-second intervals, suggests nationally recognized career coach Marty Nemko in his Kiplinger article "Do You Talk Too Much?" After 30 seconds of talking, prepare to stop and ask the other person’s opinion or thoughts.
When to Get Help
You might need professional mental health services if you have little control over the compulsion to talk incessantly, or if self-help methods prove unsuccessful. Counseling can help if you talk “at” people in a hurried, aggressive manner or if excessive talking has cost you friendships or jobs. Seek help if you use talking to avoid difficult feelings. Working with a professional, you can solve the problem so you feel better about yourself, repair your relationships and decrease your anxiety.
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Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.