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Over Talkers

What Is Over Talking? Stopping The Over Talker
Help For The Over Talker Telling Them of The Problem

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Stopping The Over Talker
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In Person
Teaching/Training/People In Groups

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What Is Over Talking?
For the most part, over talking has little to do with how much you're
saying. Rather it's more about being fair with the other person's time. A good
conversation is give and take. It involves both people talking, both
people listening and both people responding.

In a good conversation, everyone feels included. Both sides get
something out of it and both sides can freely disengage from it. That's
why good conversations can last for hours. No one leaves upset and no
one feels violated.

While over talking has nothing to do with the length of the
conversation, it almost always occurs when the conversation is one
sided, or the other person feels you care nothing about their needs or
opinions. The fact is that people value their time. And a minute will
seem like an eternity if they feel they're being talked at. No one
wants to feel they're just a prop and not really part of the conversation.
No one wants to feel the speaker has no concerns for their wants or needs.

To show you care means to show you are in touch. That you are thinking
about their needs as well as your own. As a practical matter, you have
to demonstrate they have the freedom to respond to what you're saying,
or if they want to, completely change the subject, go to the bathroom 
or even get off the phone. Otherwise, anything you say is bound to be
over talking.

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Help For The Over Talker

Do You Talk Too Much?


  • When Talking, Stay Alert for A Sign That Your Listener Is Losing Interest: eyes wandering more than 1/3 of the time (or the opposite, staring frozen at you), finger or toe tapping, frequently interrupting you, a body position that suggests the person is trying to get away from you, frequently saying “uh-huh” as if urging you to get on with it.
  • After 30 To 60 Seconds, Stop Talking. Ask a question that engages the person, or ask what they think about what you’ve said. Then listen to where they are going with it and wait until they’ve expressed themselves. Do not interrupt. Then respond. You should do no more than 60 percent of the total talking.
  • If You're Saying Something That Requires More Than A Minute, Break It Up Into Segments, and after each segment, ask something like, “What do you think of that?” or  “Am I being clear? Really?” The “really” is important because it lets the listener know that your request is not gratuitous: You really want their thoughts or comments.
  • Show Them You're Listening. Maintain eye contact. Nod and restate key points to indicate you're tracking them. This may also lead to other interesting conversations. Ones where both people are participating.
  • Find Someone Who’s A Good Listener And Do What They Do. And note the ways he/she shows they’re listening to you. Do likewise with others.
  • Listen To What’s Said Behind the Words So You Can Respond Better. Aside from their factual statements, is there something else being said?  For example, from their tone, do they want to go now? Are they happy, angry or uncomfortable about something? Maybe, such as with close friends, it’s the issues behind the words that need talking about. Respond accordingly.
  • Allow For Periods Of Silence. Count To Twenty During Conversation Gaps So The Other Person Has A Chance To Resume. It may feel awkward, but give the other person some breathing space. It also permits them to reflect on what was said or to steer the conversation elsewhere. In that way, they too can be a part of the conversation.
  • After A Few Minutes, See If You Can Recall A Few Points Of What The Other Person Has said.  If you can’t, it may be because you are monopolizing the conversation. The better listener you become, the more you'll remember. Ask the Lord for a true desire to listen and for a real interest in what the person is saying.


    • Get so lost in your own point that you ignore the signs of your listener losing interest.
    • Try all at once to spill out whatever is on your mind-Remember the 30 second rule.
    • Devote most of your mental energies on what you will say next (LISTEN!).
    • Interrupt.
    • Find excuses to stay on the phone when the other person wants to go.
    • Demand to know why the other person must get off the phone. (They'll dread
      ever talking to you again).

What Good Listeners Do

  • Look at the person who’s speaking.
  • Question the speaker to clarify what’s being said.
  • Repeat some of the things the speaker says.
  • Pay close attention to what the speaker is saying.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Don’t change the subject until the speaker has finished his or her thoughts.
  • Stop talking after a minute to see if the other person is bored, distracted or lost.

How To Avoid Over Talking At Job Interviews
Be Clear and Concise. Be honest and succinct with your responses. Tell the truth in as positive a manner as possible, and don't discuss things or events in a negative fashion. Long answers are less effective than concise responses and tend to make interviewers suspicious. Stay on topic and avoid tangents.  If you are talking more than 90 seconds without interaction with the interviewer, you may be giving them more detail than they want. If you feel you may be talking too long, just stop and ask the interviewer a question like, “Am I giving you the level of detail you're looking for?” This prompts a response and promotes an open exchange of information. Besides, if you're putting the interviewer to sleep with your long-winded answers, asking a question will wake them up.
For More See

Help For Those Who Talk Too Much and

Become A Better Listener

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Talking On The Phone

  • Enjoy Their Conversation. But Tell Them You Can Talk For Just A Short Time. Immediately at the start, say you can only talk for ten minutes. Do this as soon as you know who it is. If you don't, it gets much tougher later on. Half way through, remind them you must go in 5 minutes. Once their time is up, in an apologetic voice say. "Sorry, but as I said, I have to go. We'll have to catch up on this later. Bye" If the caller asks why you have to go, repeat slightly more firmly. "I just have to go. Bye". Then hang up. (Why you have to go is none of their business. They must respect your right to get off the phone).
  • Return Their Calls Only When You Or They Will Have To Go Shortly. For example: Call ten minutes before their favorite TV show, or within ten minutes of when you or they have to pick up the kids, eat dinner, go to work, etc. Screen your calls and return them at a more convenient time.
  • Avoid Talking When The Caller Is Just Killing Time. People will often talk longer during commuting times such as when they're on the train or stuck in traffic, when they're doing some mundane task like washing dishes or folding laundry, or over the weekend/at the end of the month (when they have free cell phone minutes). Screen your calls. Return them later at a time best for you.
  • Give Cues That The Conversation Is About To End. On the phone, you can’t depend on visual hints so, you’ll just have to be more verbal. Explain you have to go now, have errands to do, or don’t like being on the phone this long etc.
  • Break Their Momentum And Take The Conversation To A Close. Don't wait for them to take a breath. It may never happen. Interrupt with “Excuse me I have to put you on hold for a sec.” Count to twenty or thirty. When you return, make sure you're the first one to talk.  Immediately seize control of the conversation without taking a breath or asking if they’re on the line. For example “Hi John, so I understand you really need to talk to an attorney. Well I have to go now but his number is blah blah blah. We’ll talk later. Bye." Or "Hi John. Look, now is a bad time. I have to go but we’ll talk later. Good-bye."

    For those who really go on and on. Interrupt by saying their name a few times. Example: "John", "John" John" are you there?  We’ll have to take this up a little later.  I have to go now/don’t like being on the phone this long/have errands to do, We'll catch up on things later. Talk to you soon."
  • Meet The Caller In Person. But to prevent them from staying too long, have something to do later that afternoon or evening. Don't miss out on good company. Just set limits so you can enjoy the relationship.

See Help For The Over Talker

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Talking In Person

For Strangers Co-Workers & Acquaintances

  • Show Them You're Too Busy To Talk. For example. Say “I can only talk for a few minutes.” Or "I’m really busy now can we talk a little later." Or let them know exactly what they're interrupting. Example: “I was just going over the numbers for next year’s budget. But if this critical, I can give you a few minutes.” Or “Do you mind if I continue typing as I really have work to do." You may also put a sticky note on your computer, your door or cubical that says "Project Due/Far Behind/Can't Talk Unless Urgent." If the person engages you anyway, refer to the sticky note/explain you have a deadline and tell them "I'd like to hear more but we'll just have to take it up later."

    Or Try the touch 'n' talk technique: If somebody comes up and talks at your desk for an hour, calm them down by touching their hand, and quietly say in a kind of whisper, `If I don't get back to work, I'm going to be here late.' That way you've said you're great, but I've got to get back to work. They won't feel insulted. It's when we say things like "Could you just shut up!" we have trouble.'

  • Break Contact. Now is the time to tell them you need to get coffee, return the file, go to the bathroom, get more food at the buffet, etc. Make sure you physically move away and distance yourself while you're talking. Don’t let them re-engage you with something they forgot to say and certainly don’t ask for more details. Leave.

    For extreme over talkers: In one fluid motion, practice moving away from them while speaking, all without taking a breath, so they can’t get a word in edgewise.

    Example: As you rise from your chair and turn away from them, say “Well, I’ve got to return the file/go to the bathroom/make a photocopy." Smile as you take two steps back and head for the door. If they're still there when you return, immediately open up the door for them to leave and say, "It was great to see you again. We'll talk soon. Bye."

    For People Who Linger In Your Office Or Cubical
    When your drop-in visitors won’t leave, move over talkers toward the door by standing and walking out with them. Some people recommend uncomfortable chairs. Consider even removing your chairs.

How Can I Tell My Friend She Talks Too Loud?
Say to Her: "I'm interested in what you're saying. But I start to blank out when you talk so loud. If I need you to talk lower, is there a way I can tell you so without hurting your feelings?" Most people will say just tell them so, or that you can give them a hand signal if they need to turn down the volume. Either way, you've set the ground rules so it will be easier next time.


Your friend probably doesn’t realize she is on over-volume. Say to her in a very nice way “I’m so sorry, but you probably don’t realize your voice is carrying over loudly.” Then just smile, and continue the conversation in a volume that is acceptable. You might even prevent embarrassment that would be caused if a third party said something. (this excerpt is from Protocol & Business Etiquette.)

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Teaching/Training/People In Groups

Try these tips to discourage over-talkers and encourage others to participate.

  • Eager beaver. This person is always first, making it difficult for others to respond. “Thanks for getting the ball rolling Kim. Does anyone have anything to add to that?”
  • Expert. This person challenges your authority and argues with others. “Jim thinks our marketing plan has some major drawbacks. Does anyone have a different opinion?”
  • Rambler. You ask this person for the time, and you get the history of watch making. “Joan’s given us a good example of what an irate customer might say. Now let’s discuss the best way to handle this type of situation.”
  • Dominator. This person can intimidate the group. “Does anyone other than Jerry have a comment?”

Also, if a participant is taking over by talking too long, too much, feel free to interrupt between thoughts, and clearly say "We need to move on, so everyone gets an opportunity to express their concerns in the time allowed."

Dealing With Difficult People (Links & Articles)
Mostly on teaching or training or doing seminars.
Also has good general tips.

Over Talkers In A Group Or Training Session (See Talking it Out-Last Paragraph)
An overly talkative person can ruin an entire meeting or training class. Use the following strategies to create an atmosphere in which everyone can participate.

Difficult Audiences
Responding to the Dominator, Eager Beaver, Expert, Rambler and Complainer.
The 3D Strategy: Depersonalize, Detach, and Defuse.

Kind Ways To Diffuse or Manage Difficult People (See P34)

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Telling Them Of The Problem

Be good rather than nice. If there's a problem, your friends and family deserve to know.

Keeping silent will hurt both of you because over talking is the type of problem that only gets worse unless something is done about it. Usually, the over talker is completely oblivious to the harm he's causing. So they will unknowingly cross over your boundaries, again and again. Your anxiety will mount, and sooner or later you will punish them for it. Whether this means by avoiding them or just by smoldering inside, you will resent them, and they will feel betrayed.

Friends should be told gently that they're talking too much. For example you may say,"Look, I’ve spent too much time on the phone and I’m getting off.  We’ll talk later."  Then, as soon as you can, follow up with an email or explain the problem in person.

For example: “John, I like talking to you but sometimes I fear we never get off the phone. I want the freedom to say I have to go now. I also want to know my wishes will be respected.  Yesterday I said I had to go three times. But for some reason you kept talking. What should I do next time?"

Or, "Sue, when we talk, I feel sometimes like I'm just a prop. Yesterday I couldn't get a word in edgewise and I felt very left out. Almost like my thoughts didn't matter to you. I know you don't feel that way, but I want to be included too. I also want to know I can end a conversation without hurting your feelings or being asked to explain why. If this happens again, what should I do?"

For Coworkers and Acquaintances

If you know someone who rambles, don't assume they know it themselves. Sadly, even if they do know, they probably don't know how to stop, or they would have already. You can help. Approach them respectfully and non-judgmentally and try to say something as close as possible to the following: "Sometimes when you talk for more than a minute or two without stopping, I feel frustrated. I need more focus." [Or, "I need to move along faster."] "Can you try to talk for only a minute or so at a time, then ask me what I want to hear about before you go on?" If you don't have their attention yet, ask them how important it is to them, and to their organization, that they be clearly understood. When you think you have their attention, discuss the one minute tool with them.

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