As social beings, communication is essential in connecting with others. Simply by talking, you get to convey, share, and receive insights on certain matters.
Although talking can be fun, in certain situations, you don’t really want to come across as a chatterbox.
But what if you talk too much?
Let’s take a look at what these 13 experts advise in order to stop yourself from talking too much.
Executive Director, RSolutions (Holdings)
For many, it can also be a bit of a challenge!
One of my favorite tools, as it helps not only with awareness of this matter but also what I define as cultivation of “inspira” (your inner character), is learning to take a “Sunday of Silence.”
Silence is two-fold: time spent in solitude, then time spent in public interacting, while remaining silent.
At my Research and Therapy Park in the City of Companies (Seattle, Washington), I have worked with combat veterans, to special forces, to everyday people with this process. One advantage of this experience is learning how much time there is and how little happens when you stay comfortably in a place of silence.
Silence, or a long pause, has long been associated with insecurity or uncertainty; this makes sense, that insecure people might suggest a fast response is best. Think about it for a minute.
Related: Why Are People Insecure?
We live in a culture where speed is everything. Thus we tend to talk, type, reply far too quickly. The only real way to slow down – learn to appreciate what I call in my various publications, “the speed of patience.”
The first step in not talking so much can be very easy:
Take time away (if needed at my retreat park) to reflect, think, write, listen, hear, and not speak while in solitude. See, problem solved.
The challenge, of course, is really learning to take the time in solitude and appreciate what it can teach you about speaking with intent or what I call disciplina in my programs. This Latin word really speaks to the intent to learn and respond dynamically, not just to respond. Being in solitude really makes not responding rather easy.
Individuals I have worked with have moved onto step two, which is to remain in silence while gradually engaging their environment to change the world. This means challenging yourself little by little to learn not to speak or make sounds.
Why is this important?
First, it teaches you to communicate with positive gestures and features. For those struggling with resting b**** face (myself included, so trust me I relate), this exercise teaches you how to respond with a smile, with raised eyebrows, with eyes “that speak.”
Second, it is a great exercise to practice regularly – go to the gym, the store, outings, etc. – spending time in silence but actively still engaged.
Journal your efforts, track your progress, give it a go!
You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself, and you may really enjoy how it helps you over time learn to talk less, listen more, and live with more intent.
Sharing too much detail is a career derailer. Why? Because when we are sharing too much detail, we are informing rather than persuading. Informing ins tactical, while persuading is strategic.
Most likely, all of us have suffered from this tendency at some point in our careers. Oversharing typically occurs when someone feels the need to prove:
- Their ideas have merit
- They are ready for a promotion
- He / She completed comprehensive research
- They belong in the meeting/discussion
Here’s the 3-step process to moving from informing to persuading by stopping the tendency to share too much detail:
Learn to recognize the signs
When you are sharing too much detail, other people will typically show their discomfort by:
- Tapping their feet, fingers, or pen
- Attempting to interrupt
- Being visibly disengaged
You’ll feel the need to:
- Speak more quickly to avoid interruption
- Share additional detail
- Describe all of your research/analysis
Your emotions will provide these clues:
- Heart racing
- Trickles of seat
- Blushing or heat/tingles on your neck
You should be able to answer any question, provide your suggestion, or state an alternate point of view in 2 – 3 short and concise sentences.
If you’re reading this thinking, “She doesn’t understand my business. There’s no way I could respond in three sentences!” This tip is for you.
Plan your response in advance when possible. If you are in a meeting and you need to respond quickly, state your point of view and leave out the analysis and detail.
Ask a follow-up question
Your follow-up question opens the door for the listener(s) to clarify any points they want to know more about. A few good follow-up questions include:
- What questions do you have about my proposal?
- Is there anything about this potential solution you’d like to know more about?
- My team has done extensive research on the topic. What would you like to know more about?
Then, answer the question with a few short sentences. If there is a need to discuss the topic in more detail, recommend a separate meeting for those interested in a deep dive.
Follow this 3-step process to increase your level of influence and promotability!
Shirley Baldwin Owens
Relationship Expert | Transformational Life Coach | Author, Get What You Want from Your Man
We can all get caught up in a conversation and realize afterwards that we talked the entire time. How do you stop yourself from talking too much?
Here are some tips to navigate any conversation:
Learn social cues
Watch others. Are they totally interested in what you are saying? Or are they fiddling with their phone or pen? If they’re hanging on your every word, keep going. If not, you may want to wrap it up.
Be interested in others. Ask questions and listen to their answers without interrupting.
Don’t be a know it all
People often feel that they have to have an answer for everything. It’s ok to just listen to another perspective, even if you have all the answers (or think you do) on a specific subject.
Silence is a gift
Allow someone else to talk. Remind yourself that it’s ok to sit in silence and listen.
While having a conversation with someone, keep track of how much of the chat time you’re taking up.
The most important thing is to be aware. Now that you accept the fact that you may talk too much, being aware of it when it’s happening is the key.
Talking too much is very common among sales professionals and sales leaders. My curriculum discusses two main points to help with this issue:
Listening with empathy
Learning to listen with empathy and truly process what the prospect is saying is a great way to control the impulse to talk too much. When listening intently, it is easy to ask good questions, and these questions lead to great answers that create a dialogue, not a one-way self-centered monologue.
Impulse control and self-awareness
Because many sales professionals have a high-driving personality, they may not have good impulse control; this often includes talking too much. If a sales professional becomes aware of their inability to control their impulses and the relationship between this and their tendency to talk too much, it can go a long way toward changing this behavior.
Self-awareness and practice of these skills will also help in stressful situations, such as an initial sales call.
Psychoanalyst | Author, The Making of a Psychoanalyst
Talking too much comes from a desire to make a strong connection. And often it works. People don’t have a problem with someone who speaks too much when they’re interesting, funny, comforting, or charismatic.
But sometimes, talking too much just doesn’t work. Instead, it becomes awkward. Or desperate. Or narcissistic. And instead of creating a connection, it kills the connection. At those times, when talking too much doesn’t work, there’s something “off.” And the thing to do is figure out what’s off.
But here’s the rub. Armchair psychologists can undoubtedly tell you what’s “off” about talking too much. Maybe it’s insecurity, which the talker tries to compensate for by showing off desperately.
Perhaps it’s a fear of being rejected, which leads to coming on too strong. Maybe it’s anger and an unconscious way of eradicating the other person. In short, it could be a lot of things, including boredom.
What will resolve the problem, though, is not being told what, exactly, is going on inside your own mind by someone else. Instead, it’s investigating your own consciousness to discover what the difficult feelings are, which the talking seeks to cover up.
Because it’s only once you discover what the feelings are that you can work on becoming more at peace with them so that you don’t have to behave out of fight or flight (during which you don’t have choices). Sometimes, talking too much is easier than having to feel insecure, or angry, or worthless, or intimidated, disappointed, or critical.
So follow the dread, insecurity, shame, and frustration to discover what bothers you. As soon as you “get“ how you tick and why, and accept it all, you’ll be at peace. And when you are at peace, talking with people becomes much more comfortable and safe, and if not, at least a choice that you can make when necessary.
Rob Magill, MA, ICAADC, CCPG, DOT-SAP, LPCTBHI
Certified Telebehavioral Health Practitioner, Magill Counseling
There are several steps not to talk too much:
Know what you need to say
Go deeper than “I want to socialize” or “I want them to know about me or my life.” Dig deep. Why is that important? What big, underlying value do you want to talk about? Why is it important for you to talk about it?
Ask yourself how this adds value to them
How will the person you are talking to benefit? If you aren’t adding value to the person or the conversation, don’t speak. It isn’t that important to the conversation. You may be seen as talking too much. Or as talking just to hear yourself.
Say it in a way the listener will get
You know what you want to say and how it will move things forward. But how will the person you are talking to hear what you are saying? Don’t design your message around what makes sense to you. Design it in a way that will make sense to them.
Watch for responses
If it seems like people are not interested in what you are saying, say less. Re-evaluate how what you said added value and how you said it. Maybe they missed the point, or perhaps it wasn’t as relevant as you thought. On the other hand, maybe it was a great point, and everyone appreciated what you said.
If you feel like you are talking too much, stop
If you are starting to question if you are talking too much, you probably are. Find a graceful way to stop talking and think through these steps. If what you were going to say is important and relevant, you can still say it in a few minutes. Otherwise, it probably wasn’t needed for the conversation.
Managing Director, Amie Devero Coaching and Consulting
One of the weaknesses I see in myself, and perhaps others share, is failing really to listen when someone else is speaking. Why? Because I’m either trying to talk and therefore interrupting, or I’m thinking about what I’m going to say next.
Thinking about talking (or talking) more than listening is pretty common, and we are all guilty of it, at least on occasion. But if we stop and truly listen –actually be 100% present and listening keenly to the person who is talking –– something magical happens for both them and us. It starts with seeking to understand rather than waiting to respond.
So, how do you accomplish that?
It takes practice
Like any habit, practice makes better. For example, for my extroverted clients, it’s really challenging to sit in a meeting and not end up dominating it.
Since my work is as a strategy consultant and executive coach for founders and executives of technology startups, it’s a topic that comes up regularly. Sometimes the client I am working with is the extroverted CEO for whom eloquence comes naturally; but just as often I will be working with an introverted CTO who is in danger of failing to make the points he wants to make in a meeting because he gets over-powered by the highly verbal executives.
For the talkative among us, here are a couple of tools to stem the flow of words.
Set a timer for your own talk-time
For meetings, I suggest setting a timer for a minimal amount of time. Let’s say the meeting is a 30-minute meeting. Then set the timer for 5 minutes. Whenever you are the one speaking, the timer runs. When it gets to zero – your time is up!
This begins to develop the muscle of listening keenly rather than jumping in with comments or dominating the meeting. It very literally cuts down on how much you talk. It also begins to illuminate how much you normally do speak in meetings. That can be quite shocking. Often, clients tell me that they give equal time to everyone in meetings. But when they are faced with the raw data of their own minutes spent talking, they discover that they are the ones holding forth while others are little more than an audience.
Knowing the reality gives you real power to assess and change what doesn’t work well.
Act like an interviewer
Another thing I suggest (and try myself to do) is to go to social events and networking events prepared to act as the interviewer of everyone you meet. Imagine you are Barbara Walters or Terry Gross (or any other famous interviewer).
The goal is to learn as much as possible about every person with whom you engage. Keep your attention on finding out more about these new people (or your old friends). What’s important to them? What makes them tick. Are they facing particularly daunting challenges, or has something spectacular happened? What is it? How did that come about?
By using that approach, you take your attention off yourself and what you have to say. Instead, you put it on what the other person is saying and feeling. Refuse to allow them to turn it back on you. Answer questions quickly and with an additional open-ended question. Dig and then, dig some more. You will leave with a richer understanding of the people you met, and a better experience of the event itself.
Use this approach to get better at listening more and talking less. It’s a tactic you can even call upon in a job interview. Being curious and deeply inquisitive about a company, the culture, the people, the strategy, and the interviewer will keep your own verbosity controlled. It will also make you a far stronger candidate!
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Birmingham Maple Clinic
Talking too much can have a variety of different causes but can be resolved in many of the same ways:
Take deep breaths through your nose and exhale with your mouth closed. This is a calming yoga breath that can serve to reduce any anxiety driving the need to talk (to fill a void, defend your self, compensate for perceived shortcomings) or anger driving the need to speak (explaining yourself or your position) and restore calm.
Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth
There is a natural soothing pressure point (think thumb sucking or nursing), but also it’s impossible to speak with your mouth in this formation
Evaluate what you want by talking and the likelihood you would get it or not by talking at this moment.
Slow the process down with the speaker-listen technique
Consider talking like a slow-motion tennis match with a bounce between. Instead of responding with what you have to say first, respond with what you heard the other person say
Musician | Comedic Motivational Speaker | Author, Super Intense
In my experience, talking too much is directly correlated with feeling insecure and trying to fill a void. Plato was quoted saying, “wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.”
When we feel compelled to speak to fill the silence or to garner attention, it’s because we lack something within ourselves.
Take inventory of the cause
Instead of trying to fill that void externally – which by the way, is a futile exercise – try to take inventory of what’s causing you to overspeak. Do not judge yourself for doing it, ever. But at first, when you catch yourself doing it, simply be aware.
At the end of each day, journal out the times you spoke too much and why. What fear guided this action? For example, perhaps you were afraid that if you didn’t tell your old friend from high school that you bumped into at the grocery store your entire life’s story since you last saw her that she’d think your life was boring.
Whatever the reason is that you talked too much, just get it out on paper without judging it.
Identify what needs to be changed
From there, you can look at what needs to change within you to avoid feeling that way again in the future. Typically this can be done by identifying what the desire is that stems from the fear you identified.
Taking the previous example of bumping into an old friend and being afraid you’ll be judged for not having an interesting enough life – this must mean that you desire to feel interesting. You desire to feel respected for your life’s story.
Now that you know what you were seeking by your behavior, you can give yourself what you were looking for on your own. You don’t need to get it from anyone else. You can give yourself the validation you were seeking.
If you wanted to feel interesting, look back on your life and be appreciative of the exciting things you’ve done. Do more interesting things for your own enjoyment – not to prove anything to anyone else.
When you go within and discover what void you were trying to fill by speaking too much, you can give yourself what you were seeking, and in doing so, you will find yourself oversharing less and less over time.
Writer, Life Insurance Types | Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Sometimes too much sharing is a turn-off. That is true in personal as well as professional relationships. TMI (too much information) is a very real issue for some. There comes a point when talking too much is annoying to those around you.
Having effective communication skills is something that almost every employer is seeking in an employee. Effective communication doesn’t mean having diarrhea of the mouth – it means knowing how to communicate your point efficiently and when to shut up.
This may sound harsh, but if you can talk the paint off a wall, then you are likely annoying those around you.
Learn to listen
One of the best qualities of an effective communicator is the ability to listen. To listen, you must refrain from talking to allow others to speak to you.
So take a breath, focus, and quit planning your response out in your head while they are talking to you. Shut it off and listen. Don’t interrupt and don’t interject. This may be hard for some at first, but it is necessary to have the skill of listening to keep from talking too much.
Ask yourself how it would make you feel to be on the listening end of a talker. If you think you would feel annoyed, imagine how that person feels when you speak. Practice the skill of being direct and making your point effectively without rambling.
If you see the person you are speaking with eyes glaze over, chances are they have quit processing what you are saying and are focusing on an exit strategy. Pay attention to the body language of others when you speak. If they aren’t focused on you and conversing with you, you have likely said too much.
Related: Why is Body Language Important?
Jazz Musician | Writer
If you’re talking too much, it usually means the other person isn’t talking
There are two ways to get them to talk. Ask them questions, and then listen to the answers.
The questions should be meaningful, and you should be able to show genuine interest in the answers. Truly listening to someone is a skill that takes practice, so watching the speaker, acknowledging them with small nods, and asking follow-up questions will give them the sense that you care so that they will continue. The follow-up questions should, of course, be relevant to what they’ve said!
It’s okay for you to talk a lot in a conversation. The point is not to talk too much. Too much means you’re doing most of the talking, so if you’re both talking a lot, you have a win!
James Killian, LPC
Principal Therapist | Owner, Arcadian Counseling
The best way to avoid talking too much is to be curious about the other person and listen with the intent to understand, not respond.
Typically when people talk too much, it’s related to feeling nervous and anxious, and these feelings often stem from a lack of personal insecurity.
Taking deep breaths with longer exhalations before and during conversations will help to decrease this anxiety and the likelihood of talking too much. If one approaches a conversation from the standpoint of curiosity and being genuinely interested in what the other person has to say, and why they are saying it, it’s hard to talk too much.
Certified Mental Health Consultant | Relationship Expert, Enlightened Reality
At times we over-talk as a result of our own insecurities, excitement, or nervousness. We overstate to make a point, and often, it’s in an attempt to boost our image.
One sentence at a time
One way to control your over-talking is to practice using just one sentence at a time and look for social cues to keep from rambling. Good breathing techniques are important for the over-talker to slow down the speech pattern.
Listening is key
After a sentence or two, wait for a response, verbal or nonverbal. Most importantly, own this trait and know that all bad habits can be broken.
It is said, “A smart person knows what to say, but a wise person knows whether or not to say it.”