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Compulsive talkers: query about types and how to deal with them


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Initial post: Feb 23, 2008 4:19:08 AM PST
M. Glennon says:
Hello, all.

Compulsive talkers get on my nerves. Always have done. Outwardly I remain polite, but inwardly I begin to seethe as my body language and tone of voice reactions fail to register with what non-compulsive talkers take to mean: 'this woman would like this conversation to wind down now'.

I happen to speak an average amount ( although I have occasionally been told I am ' a quiet type'), and like to think that I am aware not only of myself, but also of the person or people to whom I am speaking. Hence, I automatically notice certain cues that others show which indicate they don't want to talk any more at the moment. These cues include things like establishing less eye contact, moving their bodies slightly away or folding their arms etc.

These clues do not register with CT's. In my experience, neither do direct sentences, such as:' I have to be somewhere else in ten minutes, so I have to go now'.

In the end, I physically move away and wave goodbye and go, but feel I have been rude in the process. ( Yes, I know they have been rude all along for showing no awareness of the person standing beside them.)

So here are my queries:
1) Any other non-rude hints as to how best to extricate oneself from the presence of a CT?
2) If you happen to recognize yourself as a CT... perhaps by dint of being told it by family members or strangers through the years... are you under the impression that all conversations end by people having to do something else or be somewhere else? ( This isn't true. Most people have a little chat, then move on without needing to make an excuse for it. If you are a CT, perhaps you are unaware of this. ) Also....and I don't mean this in a sarcastic way, but I really do wonder about it sometimes... does silence make you anxious?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2008 5:54:42 AM PST
Linda Thomas says:
This is a mental health issue as well as a physical health issue. Self-silencing is now known to be one of the higher risk behaviors for heart disease. You describe "seething" inside while not wanting to be "rude" in your interaction, hoping they will get the message - which they won't! Very bad for your health. Your values have kind intentions but are misplaced here. My guess is that you have often been the forebearing one in many situations, while the other person rambles on with nary a clue. Maybe you even had a "silent" childhood. You have to learn how to come clean with yourself - not just inside your head (which sounds like a pretty intelligent head) but outside in the world of clueless, selfish people. The responsibiity, much to your suprise maybe, actually lies with you - in your actions!

l. Interrupt with your OWN opinion - quickly and deliberately. You need practice in staying in the game.
2.After you get some relief and more comfortable with being more of a blabber mouth yourself, interrupt strongly with, "Well, this was fun, but, oh my, I've talked too much and now I'm late! See you later, bye. Have a good day!
3. Stay with the upper hand, while staying cheerful and upbeat. This will improve your confidence. And, believe it or not, the other person will be somewhat bewildered, but will start to accomodate to you.
4. After you get more and more adept at using your pool of backed-up resentment in this way, you will begin to see more clearly that you have friends and acquaintances that are just not worthy of your time and friendship - and will start the process of cutting loose. "Life is too short" is what settles into your brain and heart. You start to live it.
5. You will start to invest in those who show an interest in your well-being and who communicate as a two-way street instead of the one-way highway you've been traveling. Those who don't understand reciprocation aren't deserving of your time.
6. Be willing to accept some flak from the "injured" parties but keep your promise to yourself to take care of your self. Stick to your plan to change your behavior. Up til now you've been giving others the benefit of the doubt. This has not worked to YOUR benefit. Those who ove you will still be there for you.
7. Good luck!!
- from Been There, had a heart attack and it changed my life for the better.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2008 7:55:54 PM PST
V. Dutcher says:
I have had this experience with a family member that I see once a week. Because I know exactly when and for how long I am going to see him, I allow him to ramble on, tuning out and in as I wish. Although this lessens the stress for me, I wonder if this is not doing him harm in a way, by enabling him to think this is "normal" social behaviour on his part? This subject isn't one you normally see posted here, but it does seem like one I would like to follow.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2008 6:18:22 AM PST
Hootie247 says:
I agree with Thomas. It is unhealthy to be "seething" inside. For myself, I find that compulsive talkers are often very insecure and if you encourage them with comments like, "I think you have a valid point but I'm having trouble getting at the essence. Is x, your point?" It will tend to move them on.

Good luck,

JD Stottlemire, Author,
"You Me and Apollo: Hope Beyond Bipolar Disorder"

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2008 9:59:22 PM PST
L. Thomas has some great advice. Sometimes you just have to be really firm and say, " I'm sorry, but I've got to run." Give a big smile and turn and leave. Your really not being rude. Compulsive talkers may think you are rude, but they've really left you with no alternative if you've tried nicely to extricate yourself and they didn't take the hint. Often times they can be quite self absorbed since you probably aren't the only person who they've trapped and made squirm and they still haven't noticed it might be because of something they are doing. And yes, part of it is that being still or silence does make them anxious.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2008 5:32:12 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 28, 2008 5:34:56 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2008 5:35:13 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 28, 2008 5:35:23 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2008 6:32:18 AM PST
As a sometimes compulsive talker I have just recently begun to ask for and receive professional help for this social problem. It's extremely helpful to people like myself to have someone say directly "you have a lot to say and it's good to see your passion. I find it difficult to process my thoughts and be in the conversation with you. What can we do to make it a more two way exchange?" And then follow through. Not addressing the problem directly cannot have a positive outcome, only confusion and possible delusion results on both sides. Let's assume best intentions from all parties. Some people speak too softly, too loudly, too much, too little, have bothersome mannerisms, avoid eye contact, are ignorant, dogmatic, talk with food in their mouths, talk about their grandchildren, and so on it goes. How about lightening up, being honest and solving problems?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2008 12:17:10 PM PST
Of course we all have problems and idiosyncrasies and we need to be tolerant of others. But it is also had for a lot of us to be so direct for fear of being rude or hurting someone's feelings and let's face it, being diplomatic and eloquent isn't easy. I often think of what I SHOULD have said after the fact. M. Glennon I think was honestly asking what the best way to handle the situation is. It's something that really irks him and we all have things that seem pretty intolerable to us despite the fact that we know they really aren't that huge a deal.
I too, can see both sides of the argument in that I have talked too much in the past, but I'm also very aware of people's body language so I can see when I need to quit talking. Being aware of other's signals is also an acquired skill and if you're self absorbed - which we all can be at times - you just don't pick up on these things.
I had an odd problem with my ex. When we'd have a discussion about anything that didn't exactly please him he would not say anything. No "uh huh" " yeah..." " okay" "whatever" simply silence. This had the odd effect on me to where I'd keep talking trying to say thinks in a way that I'd hope he'd find acceptable or get an answer or participation or anything. Being nervous and uncomfortable, I was making the situation worse by keeping talking until it dawned on me (yes, I am a bit slow) that there was nothing I could say that would be the right thing and to just shut up since the more I spoke (even though it was nicely) the more I made things worse and pissed him off. Needless to say we had communication issues. But I understand what is like to be talked "at" by a compulsive talker and feel trapped and also being the talker that talked too much. Hopefully my story and 2 cents is helpful or enlightening. If not, well, I will endeavor to do better and try being more direct while being as sensitive to the other person as possible.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2008 11:00:24 AM PST
K. Wilson says:
Take a free Meyers Briggs Type test and learn about interverts and extraverts. Google free Meyers Briggs Test. Explain to talkers that you are an introvert and it drains you
of your stamina to talk more then 3 to 5 minutes nothing personal.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2008 9:39:19 AM PST
T. Singh says:
I'd say to excuse yourself EARLIER. Don't allow your time to be monopolized by a CT. Don't let it get to the point where you're seething. There's another type of CT that I've run into. They're the type who will go on & on & on usually while on the phone and when they finally notice that you're doing something else they act like they're offended that you're not paying attention. I've had someone keep me on the phone for over 1 hour.....do they not think that I may have "work" to do? Anyway, it all depends on who the talker is.

If the talker is someone you MUST deal with in your daily job there's no way to get away from them you have to grin & bare a certain amount. I have issues with people who make comments they may think are helpful or nice such as "that's a nice outfit you should buy all of your clothes there." That's not a compliment that's a thinly disguised insult. I think MOST people are clueless and stupid. I tend to feel as you do I don't want to be "rude" and point out every instance where someone's said something that I find unacceptable but then again this person is someone I MUST work closely with so I try to let it go in one ear & out the other.

People may tell you they find your comments rude but that may not necessarily be true. I had someone tell me I was being "smart" this person has done everything under the sun to offend me so in my speaking up for myself they misconstrued that to be "smart."

In all of this ramble if the person who talks too much starts talking simply walk away. If they aren't your boss smile nod your head & walk the other way.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2008 11:45:28 AM PDT
Late Bloomer says:
The idea that there might be professional help available for the compulsive talker is an idea I find most interesting. I'd love to hear the outcome of your quest.
I know a C.T. that never ceases to amaze me with his insensitivity to what may or may not be of interest to his listener(s). He doesn't seem to tolerate any silence, nor does it seem to enter his head that if he were quiet someone else might have something more valuable or interesting to say. I really regret that over the years when I have been obliged to be together with him that I haven't been more direct and simply said something like, "Wow, you really seem to be dominating the conversation here." When I think about it, I suppose there are lots of things I might have said in a way that didn't come across as outright rejection of him but just a friendly observation.
I guess I have always assumed that such people suffer from some sort of genetic flaw that causes this problem and didn't think about the possibility that therapy might help. Since the brain is composed of approximately 70% fat, maybe there is some essential fatty acid imbalance that excludes certain connections from being made that might make the C.T. more sensitive to others.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 12:33:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2008 12:45:54 PM PDT
music junkie says:
most of the previous replies to your post are accurate. ct's are too self-absorbed to notice your polite cues. you don't need to be rude and just walk away but i've noticed that if you over-talk a compulsive talker they become uninterested in the conversation. people who talk too much are usually trying to unload whatever is going on in their life. start talking about yourself and see how quickly that conversation ends. they will move to a new sucker to hear their life story.... i hope that helps!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 6:21:42 PM PDT
B. Jones says:
Compulsive talkers often realize their condition, and they're proud of it. I have a co-worker that brags that she can only tell a story slowly, and truly it takes her 20 minutes to say what anyone else can say in one or two sentences. I just slowly ease away saying I have work to do which is generally true.

When I was just starting off in the working world I was flattered when bosses and other people wanted to spend half an hour or an hour talking to me, but years ago I finally realized they just want to TALK. Being that my only importance to them is as an audience, and like another poster mentioned, their attention and feet wander away if you dare join the conversation, I don't worry about absenting myself from their presence. They are the rude ones and are also horribly conceited to think their boring stories day after day after day are interesting.

Proud introvert.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 9:02:38 PM PDT
We have several CTs in our office. They are ALL lonely or needy in some way - most have no friends, are single or divorced. It's a vicious cycle though cos no one would want to be their friends.
I don't think it's a genetic or psychological disorder. I think that they are lonely and/or self absorbed. It's only genetic if e.g. someone is autistic.
a) They can't or refuse to read non-verbal cues.
b) They are boring. Who cares if it happened on Monday or Tuesday? Who cares what time your doctor's appointment is this afternoon or what you are buying for supper?
c) A lot of you are right, they never want to hear the other person's story or opinion.
d) They mention people by name as if you know who they are.
I have decided to cut one off in particular - she told me about her holiday in excruciating detail but made it obvious a few weeks later that she didn't want to hear about mine.
They don't seem to care about what the bosses think but I do and I don't want an undeserved reputation as a slacker.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 11:18:15 AM PDT
happytobeme says:
Are CT simply just thinking out loud? Is is possible to politely tell these people to keep thier thoughts to themselves? I have also noticed that when I try to carry a converstion with these individuals they cut off my sentence and or change the subject back to themselves. I usually just get up and walk away or pick up my cell phone and check my calls. I do not wish to have a one sided conversation. They dont seem to care they just keep talking.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 11:00:07 AM PDT
Amazonaholic says:
Hi,
I just wanted to point out that sometimes medications can make a person VERY talkative. I'm normally a quiet, very antisocial, introvert, but when I take antidepressants or seizure medications I turn into someone who has a whole lot to say. I think it's because these drugs change the chemicals in the brain. My sister-in-Law is a constant talker, and she is also Bi-Polar and on a ton of medications. Since I've have CT while on certain medications, I assume she probably does too, So I try not to hold to against her.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 11:01:43 AM PDT
Amazonaholic says:
Hi,
I just wanted to point out that sometimes medications can make a person VERY talkative. I'm normally a quiet, very antisocial, introvert, but when I take antidepressants or seizure medications I turn into someone who has a whole lot to say. I think it's because these drugs change the chemicals in the brain. My sister-in-Law is a constant talker, and she is also Bi-Polar and on a ton of medications. Since I've have CT while on certain medications, I assume she probably does too, So I try not to hold to against her.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 2:43:42 PM PDT
Oops, sorry, I must have sounded insensitive. We have manic depressives in our family too. I do know the type of talking you're referring to - very hyper and quick when they are manic. I was thinking more of the bores in our office who relate everything in minute detail the minute they find a sympathetic ear but switch off when you want to tell them anything. As I say, most are lonely so most of us feel we are doing something charitable by listening to them.
The one actually doesn't even turn around if you come to talk to her, she just looks at her computer screen!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 4:05:39 PM PDT
FEBE says:
I JUST READ ALL THE POSTINGS.... I AM TRYING HARD TO NOT TALK TOO MUCH AND DON'T THINK I TALK AS MUCH AS SOME OF THESE PEOPLE - BUT NOT SURE.

BE KIND TO US "CT" BECAUSE WE CAN'T HELP. I AM WORKING NOW ON NOT BEING A "CT"....

ALL OF THESE POSTS HELPED ME.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 5:14:07 PM PDT
FEBE says:
I JUST READ ALL THE POSTINGS.... I AM TRYING HARD TO NOT TALK TOO MUCH AND DON'T THINK I TALK AS MUCH AS SOME OF THESE PEOPLE - BUT NOT SURE.

BE KIND TO US "CT" BECAUSE WE CAN'T HELP. I AM WORKING NOW ON NOT BEING A "CT"....

ALL OF THESE POSTS HELPED ME.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 5:48:28 PM PDT
And yours helped me by pointing out the other side of the coin and reminding me to be merciful!

The fact that you recognize yourself as one means you are probably not that bad. The ones I am talking about are totally oblivious.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2008 1:48:20 PM PDT
I've noticed that it has been a lot of peoples experience that CTs have one side conversations and either turn conversations back to themselves or some other way of not listening or letting the other person talk.
I imagine it does have a lot to do with brain chemicals in some cases - it's a manic trait, but it also has to do with loneliness and insecurity as well. I don't mind a CT so much if they let you talk too, but if it is purely one sided - them doing all the talking and really refusing to let me add or talk then I check the rude and self absorbed box and try to remove myself as delicately as possible. Or if they won't let me then I've gotta be abrupt which I hate. I guess a lot of us are needy and for some reason think that talking a lot will help fill in empty places or attract people to us. Who knows. I'm sure there's a book or a scientific theory out there on it.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2008 1:51:09 PM PDT
Thanks for your input FEBE. As long as you let others speak and have their say too, I think you'll be fine. And please don't think I am being mean but a little helpful hint might be to take off the CAP LOCK key as all caps is considered as yelling in the Internet chat world. Be well and take care!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2008 7:58:25 AM PDT
As some others have suggested, this really is a physiological problem that has symptoms that are troublesome for the people around the ill person. It is a problem with body chemistry that causes the compulsive behavior, the obliviousness, and any feelings of anxiety, insecurity, loneliness, or whatever. If you recognize yourself or someone you know, it might be useful to research a field of medicine called "orthomolecular nutrition." (Search Google.) As one person suggested, sometimes a deficiency of essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 fatty acids high in EPA, can cause a problem in a person's brain, and supplementation can solve the problem. In other cases, it is other nutrients that are missing. And, sometimes the problem is an overly high level of some toxic substance in the body. Fortunately, these are all problems that usually can be resolved over time, if you know what to do. Once you start to learn about orthomolecular nutrition, you will find that there are many books (sold by Amazon) and websites that can tell you more -- including where to get help. If you can find a tactful way to share this information with the CT, you will be doing them a kind service.
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