If you talk too much and just can’t seem to help yourself, try these handy tricks.
Hey, tangents happen to the best of us—especially when we’re talking about something we’re super passionate about. But if you find the only time you’re not on a tangent is when you’re unconscious, or you notice that people’s eyes glaze over the second you open your mouth, you might be one of the many people who talk too much.
I come from a long line of over-talkers—as in, I may have only successfully finished three sentences during my entire childhood. So even though I’m acutely aware of how obnoxious it is, sometimes I can’t help but get all if I don’t finish this thought I’m going to burst. Combine that with a severe case of social anxiety that turns me into a rambling trainwreck and… well, I apologize to anyone who’s ever stuck having a conversation with me.
If you find you (unintentionally) talk too much, here are 6 super easy tricks to keep your conversations from going off the rails:
1. Become self-aware
The first step to ending your reign of terror is to become aware of your quirky, not-so-charming habits when you’re being social. Are you an over-talker? Do you talk about yourself too much? Could someone watch the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and your story still wouldn’t be over? Pay attention to the triggers that send you off on a tangent, and do your best to avoid acting on them.
2. Watch for cues
If you’re on one of your chatty benders, pay attention to the person you’re talking to: Have their eyes glazed over, or do they keep looking at their watch? If their body language seems dismissive, wrap up quickly and allow them to either switch to a new topic or mosey on with their day. Try to keep in mind the 50-50 rule: 50 percent talking and 50 percent listening.
3. Let it go
One of the worst things to happen to both you and the person you’re talking to is the recovery ramble: You see that they’re bored, but you still have more to say, so you keep going in an attempt to regain their interest. It’s not going to happen. Instead, cut yourself off, make a joke about your serious rambling chops, and turn the conversation over to them.
4. Write a script
If you have a tendency to ramble (you know, like me), prepare scripts to see yourself through nerve-wracking situations, such as a networking event or presentation. Prepare answers to tricky questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” so you don’t end up trapping someone with a severe case of TMI. Over-telling is just as bad as over-talking. (I should know.)
5. Chill out
Sometimes we talk too much because we’re feeling nervous or uncomfortable and attempt to distract everyone from our discomfort by… well, never shutting up. When you feel a tangent coming on, simply shift the conversation over to someone else in the group. Put the onus on them to be charming and give yourself a much needed breather.
6. Funnel your rambling
We’ve all got that one family member or friend we turn to when we need to let it all hang out. They don’t care if we overtalk, ramble, or repeat ourselves—and they know the feeling’s mutual. When you feel like you’re going to explode from all the things you didn’t get to say, that’s what speed dial is for.
Fess up: Do you talk too much?
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