Have you ever felt trapped into listening to a monologist—a non-stop talker? Have you tried to give non-verbal cues such as looking away or acting restless, and discovered that talking addicts are oblivious to the effect their over-talking has on you?
Which is more important to you—loving yourself or care-taking for the other person? Are you more worried about their feelings than your own? Are you more willing to feel drained than take loving action on your own behalf?
Even in the small things, we can choose to love ourselves or neglect our own needs.
You DON'T need to be a victim of a talking addict. While you might have compassion for them, realizing that they might be very lonely, you also need to be aware of the fact that, if they were listening to themselves and taking responsibility for their own feelings, and if they cared about others rather than just trying to get attention, they wouldn't be talking on and on without even a breath where you could possibly get in a word edgewise.
As soon as you are aware of feeling bored or drained, you can take loving action on your own behalf. Here are a few suggestions:
1. If you are at a social gathering, you can simply say, "Excuse me," with a kind smile and then walk away.
You don't need to explain anything, nor do you need to wait for an opening. You can interrupt them – which you will have to do in order to take loving care of yourself. It might seem rude to you, but you need to consider that the over-talker is being rude to you, in taking at you instead of with you, and that he or she will likely find someone else who will be willing to listen for awhile.
If the person's feelings are hurt, that might be a motivation to ask you why you walked away.
I had this happen once at a gathering. The over-talker came up to me and asked me why I had walked away. Since she asked, I was honest. "You were talking at me on and on and there was no way to connect with you. I prefer a dialogue, not a monologue. It's boring to be talked at rather than talked with." She thanked me for being honest, telling me that she had often wondered why people sometimes walked away from her.
Not only was it loving for me to walk away, it was loving to her as well, since it motivated her to discover why some people were walking away from her.
2. If you're dealing with a family member or co-worker, consider the future of the relationship (while still being honest).
With a family member, friend or co-worker, you might want to say something like, "I'd love to connect with you but I can't when you keep talking at me. Can we have a dialogue between us? Frankly, I get bored with monologues." This can be said in a kind, non-blaming tone.
Sometimes, humor can help, especially with people you know well.
Saying in a playful tone while looking at your watch, "Time's up! Now it's my turn to talk," might clue the person in to the fact that they've been over-talking.
What if you're the over-talker?
If you are the one over-talking, you might want to explore what you are trying to get from others that you need to be giving to yourself.
When I work with people who are talking addicts, I always address the issue directly by saying something like, "There must be a good reason that you are talking on and on. What is this about for you?" I let them know that I can't connect with them when they are focused in their head talking at me on and on.
I ask them to put their focus into their heart and let me know what they are feeling when they are over-talking. Often they say that they need to heard. I help them see that they are projecting on to me the need to hear themselves, and I help them go inside and start to hear what their soul is trying to tell them. As they learn to attend to themselves and hear themselves, their obsessive need to be heard by others diminishes.