Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Dealing with Non-stop Talkers

Have you ever been caught up in a dialogue which in effect turned out to be a monologue? In your eagerness to practice the techniques of empathetic listening, you realize you have just walked into a non-stop one-way conversation bog. Did you feel like fleeing as the monologue flits across various topics of no consequence to you? Worse, the speaker asks you for an opinion, and before you get to express it, resumes the tirade.

This is especially trying when you are hard pressed for time, with a long list of things to do. Searching long for the answer, I found different people handled this in different ways. See the list below. some of the methods can appear rude and you have to consider your relationship with the person before applying them.
For instance, if it is somebody who is close to you like immediate family or your spouse, you need to be very careful and considerate. If it is your boss or colleague, again you have to exercise caution.

Non-stop talkers usually chatter off without considering the effect they are making on the listeners. You might be squirming to escape, but he/she fails to notice your discomfort.

An intelligent conversation is irrelevant here because the non-stop talker does not wait for your response, but is on a never ending monologue.

So here are the methods of escape:

  1. Get yourself relaxed. Counting your breaths is a simple way to do this. When you are relaxed, calmly look the chattering talker in the eye, in the spot between the eyes. Do not show any expression and do not force it into a staring contest. If you can maintain your steady gaze for some time, the person will slow down, and eventually stop. Be careful that he/she doesn't take it for aggression or romance. Break your gaze when you feel uncomfortable. Also, the person is likely to get unsettled after a few minutes of silent gazing. Then smile sincerely, excuse yourself and exit the scene (Before he starts on the next barrage, encouraged by your smile). You might need to practice gazing expressionless using a mirror.
  2. Mentally offer an affirmation of good will towards them: "I respect you. You need to be listened to, but first you need to listen to yourself"
  3. Listen for sometime, then excuse yourself saying you have some work to do.
  4. If the person is in deep mental agony or has a problem, of course you need to give your ears. Just take care it does not become a pattern. Everybody has to solve their own problems.
  5. Do not tell them about their talking problem unless you are confident of dealing with unexpected reactions.
  6. You cannot try the gazing technique on everybody. If the person concerned is your boss, you'd better keep your distance discretely.
The reason people talk non-stop is a chronic need for attention and validation.
Minty Mcnair gives some valuable tips on this issue here:Keys for Relating to Non-Stop Talkers.
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