Good Conversationalists Know How Much to Talk and How Much to Listen

Today is Thursday, so this post is on communication skills, specifically conversation skills.

I love WikiHows.  The other day, I found a good one on conversation skills called How to Tell if You Talk Too Much and What to Do if You Do.

I liked it so much, that I’m posting it here.

How to Tell if You Talk Too Much and What to Do if You Do

Everyone likes to be heard. There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to know your opinions, or how you feel. However, expressing yourself can be a bad thing when it begins to annoy the people around you or cause yourself personal embarrassment (foot in mouth syndrome.) Additionally, part of being a good friend is being able to shut up and listen. If you’re worried that you might talk too much, feel free to read this little article.

Assess a conversation. So, you just met your friend for lunch and are worried you may have dominated the conversation…again. Honestly and in an unbiased manner, replay the lunch date in your head. Ask yourself some questions like; "Who truthfully did the majority of the talking?", "Did we talk more about me or about my friend?", "How often did I interrupt my friend?" This will help you to see clearly whether or not you talk a lot in comparison to other people. Don’t limit these "replay sessions" to your social circle. think about the way you talk to EVERYONE. Including–but not limited to–your boss, mother, and the restaurant help.

Pay attention to body language Do people sometimes roll their eyes when you start to talk, or maybe tap their foot impatiently? Do people begin to phase out when you begin to elaborate on something? Do people simply nod their head and throw out irrelevant "Yeahs" and "Uh-huhs"? Or worse, do people sometimes ignore you completely when you get on a verbal roll? these are some good indicators of whether you bore people by talking too much. If signs like these are consistent factors in your conversations, you probably talk too much.

Keep count of all the times you accidentally say more than you mean to say. Do you find yourself often giving away bits of information you don’t mean to? A friend’s confidence, or your own (sometimes embarrassing) problems? Or maybe you let slip rude or hurtful opinions of people. Note how often this occurs in day-to-day conversations.

Fix the problem You’ve decided you DO talk too much and want to do something about it, here are some suggestions of how to do this:

  • Slow down. Sometimes people simply get excited and begin an overwhelming monologue. They’re so into what they have to say, they forget that you need TWO people to hold a conversation. This is selfish. Sometimes all it takes is a quick mental note to calm down. Take a deep breath and collect yourself before breaking your oh-so-amazing news to your friends. In essence, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Truthfully, your special story will have more impact if you take time time think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
  • STOP INTERRUPTING PEOPLE. Interrupting people is a self-centered and widely excused habit of the majority of the world’s population. People have been desensitized to this egotistical way of carrying on a conversation. It’s now commonplace to find oneself rudely and callously cut off from finishing your sentences, only to find one’s fellow converser interjecting with their own personal stories, thoughts, or commentaries. A practice which basically states "I don’t find you interesting enough, and so I’m just going to say what I want to say." This is a simple, awful way to disregard the most basic rule of human interaction; respect.
  • So the next time you are in a conversation, no matter what it is about, I beseech you to listen. I mean, REALLY listen. Personal input is a wonderful way to express oneself, but never at the expense of the other person’s feelings. So go for it, this is a wonderful way to gain the revered honor of becoming a "good listener."

TIP: Breaking yourself of bad habits or poor manners takes time. Don’t get discouraged. It’s wise to ask a close friend for support. It can’t hurt to have a coach.

WARNING: Please, please, don’t stop talking! Talking is a beautiful form of interaction, and a good marking of a "social butterfly." But remember, everyone want their turn in a conversation. It’s time to go back to that long forgotten pre-school lesson of sharing.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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