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Why do we feel the need to talk? For some, it’s anxiety driven; for others, they literally can’t help themselves and simply don’t recognize that they talk a lot.  

Whatever the reason is for the compulsion to speak, it’s not always a good thing. At times, those who love to talk can actually impede the creative and processing time of others.  

Now, there are certainly times when talking is beneficial. For instance, when someone is learning from you and you have their captivated attention. But talking too much can certainly interrupt team creativity, especially in brainstorming sessions. While some people feel tense in quiet moments and feel the need to break the silence, others thrive.  

Often, people don’t even notice that they’re talkers. It’s important, therefore, to observe your own behavior and read the body language of others to learn if you’re a talker. Some clues include people shying away from you and not trying to start conversations. They may walk quickly by your desk and wave or neglect to ask you questions knowing you might drone on. Or you might notice that when they do speak with you, they state things like, “I only have a few minutes,” or, “This needs to be quick.” 

5 Things to Do If You’re a Talker

If you’re a talker, here are 5 things you will want to do to give others time to express themselves. 

1. Be mindful.

Pay attention to how much you talk. This includes knowing how much time is left in the meeting, whether or not someone is trying to leave the conversation quickly, and if your communication bounces from one topic to the next without allowing others to respond. Being mindful means paying attention to how much back and forth takes place in the conversation. Make an effort to offer only one point at a time and then to invite feedback. Enjoy listening as much as you enjoy speaking. 

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2. Stay curious.

Being curious about others and what they have to say can aid in your ability to monitor how much you talk. Draw others out by asking questions, and then try to stay fully present while listening to their reply. Listen intently to learn instead of simply waiting to voice what’s on your mind. Showing interest in others and what they have to say can make it easier for them to enjoy listening to you. Monopolizing the conversation signals to the others that their opinions aren’t valued.

3. Avoid speaking over others.

Although it’s blatantly rude, some who anxiously feel the need to speak don’t restrain themselves from talking loudly over another speaker. Giving others space to finish their ideas shows them respect and helps them feel valued. Cutting others off will only further alienate you from conversations. As this is likely not your goal, be sure that others aren’t made to feel as if you don’t care what they have to say. 

4. Learn to like the lull.

For those uncomfortable with silence in the company of others, they impetuously talk to fill any lull in conversation. But for others, a lull provides a moment to sort out thoughts and put together ideas for discussion. If you tend to talk to break the silence, learn to like the lull. Let the silence go on without compulsively filling it with chatter that will distract others from their thought process. Try not to prompt others with a question until you see several begin to make eye contact again, signaling that they’ve finished formulating their idea and are ready to share it.

5. Keep a pen and paper nearby.

Sometimes the compulsive need to speak happens when an idea pops into your head, but you also want to show others respect and give them time to speak. One tip for keeping your thoughts together is to keep a pen and paper handy during meetings for writing down your thoughts until it’s an appropriate time to speak. If the moment doesn’t arrive in your meeting, you can send along your idea in an email afterwards. This honors everyone’s time limits and also ensures your idea can be shared and considered.  

The Gift of Gab?

If you are someone with the gift of gab, make sure that when you’re around others who naturally yield the floor that you don’t dominate the discussion. Mindfully notice whether you’ve talked enough and acknowledge that others deserve a turn.

Listen attentively and show curiosity in others’ ideas. Allow a lull to give people time to think. And, if an idea pops up while another is speaking, jot it down and store it for later. Do not speak over someone else. Such disrespectful conduct may lead others to tune you out.   

Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author:

BOOK: Positive Influence

Positive Influence – Be the “I” in Team
by Brian Smith PhD and Mary Griffin

book cover of Positive Influence – Be the “I” in Team by Brian Smith PhD and Mary GriffinWe all have the power to use our influence to create positive, lasting change in the environment around us. By embodying this unique power to affect positive change around us, we step into a life filled with prosperity for ourselves and all that are touched by our influence. 

Brian Smith and Mary Griffin upskill listeners with the tools needed to stay humble, lead themselves and the people around them well and create opportunities. 

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as an Audiobook and as a Kindle edition. 

About the Author

photo of Brian Smith, PhDBrian Smith, PhD, is founder and senior managing partner of IA Business Advisors, a management consulting firm that has worked with more than 20,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, and employees worldwide. Together with his daughter, Mary Griffin, he has authored his latest book in the “I” in Team series, Positive Influence – Be the “I” in Team (Made for Success Publishing, April 4, 2023), which shares how to become our best self with everyone we influence.

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