You talk a lot.
Either you know you do, or you’ve been told you do.
But right now you can’t seem to help yourself.
You don’t know why you talk so much or how to talk less.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together some actionable tips to help you avoid talking too much.
But before we get to those, let’s explore a very important question:
Why Do I Talk So Much?
Understanding the reasons behind your excessive talking is vital to being able to tackle it.
You can’t change a behavior without first understanding its root causes.
There are many reasons why a person might talk so much, but here are the main ones.
(It’s important to note that not all of these will apply to you, but some will almost certainly strike a chord.)
1. You lack impulse control.
Many people dominate conversations simply because they lack the ability to control their urge to talk.
Whenever a conversational partner makes a point, you jump right back in with your own thoughts.
You do this without thinking and regardless of whether they had finished their point.
A thought simply enters your mind and before you’ve had a chance to question whether it needs to be said (straight away, at least), you’ve gone ahead and said it.
2. It’s a boost to your ego.
It feels good to be listened to.
By hearing your voice and sharing your thoughts, you receive some form of gratification.
In those moments when you are doing the talking, you receive the attention of others and this gives your ego a little boost.
And because it feels good, you do more and more of it.
3. You think it makes you more likeable.
You believe that being outgoing, talkative, and the proverbial life and soul of the party makes people like you.
And everyone wants to be liked by those people they share their life with.
Quite often your chatty personality is welcomed and enjoyed. You bring a zest and vibrancy to proceedings.
This makes it more appealing for you to talk a lot at other times. Talking makes you feel more interesting.
And this can lead to you speaking too much in situations that don’t call for it, or at times when your words are not being so uplifting.
4. You enjoy giving your opinions on things.
Everyone will have some sort of opinion on most topics of conversation, and you like to make yours heard.
This relates back to the ego boost because you get a little buzz out of making your opinion known to others.
And the same can be said for giving advice to other people on the problems that they are relaying to you.
It doesn’t matter if that advice wasn’t asked for, you like to give it anyway.
5. You like to be right.
When it comes to those opinions of yours, you like to be right all the time and will spend time talking to prove that you are.
Whether it’s taking the moral high ground on something or out-maneuvering the other person in a debate/argument, you talk until you feel you have won the point.
6. You enjoy drama and conflict.
There’s a part of you that likes the combative back and forth of a disagreement.
And so you aren’t afraid to continue a discussion – particularly a heated one – even when it seems to have ended.
This clearly links back to the two previous points because you will dig your heels in and defend your position to the very end.
7. You do your thinking out loud.
You find it easier to organize your thoughts and work through things by talking about them.
And so you find someone and you chew their ear off in order to work out your position or come up with a plan of action.
You struggle to get the clarity you need by just thinking about something.
8. You speak when you’re nervous.
If you are feeling anxious about something, you tend to talk a lot to distract yourself and regain some sort of composure.
Whether when meeting someone new, when you’re unwillingly the center of attention, or because something about your situation makes you genuinely afraid, you talk to both mask and deal with your nerves.
9. You find silence awkward and uncomfortable.
You are never without some sort of sound in your life, whether that’s background music, the television, the sound of the outside world, or your own voice.
In particular, you hate being in another person’s company and allowing a silence to go on for more than a few seconds.
It leaves you feeling awkward and you believe that, because you feel that way, your conversational partner must do too.
10. You have a mental health condition.
11 Ways To Talk Less And Listen More
Now that you have some idea as to the reasons why you talk so much, what can you do about it?
What follows is a list of tools and practices that can help you to speak less frequently.
The more of these you can work on, the more you’ll be able to moderate your level of talking.
But since there are quite a lot of items in this list, you might find it helpful to focus on two or three at a time.
When you are confident you have gotten to grips with those, you can add more things into your toolbox.
1. Learn to control your impulse.
A lack of impulse control was the first point on the list of reasons why you might talk so much, and so it makes sense that it should be the first thing you try to tackle.
Doing so is simple, but it is not always easy.
It’s simple because all it really takes is for you to identify an impulse before you act upon it, and then choose not to act.
It’s not easy because these things happen very quickly – often in a fraction of a second. And because acting upon an impulse is what you are used to doing.
To control your impulse, you have to practice taking a conscious pause every time you open your mouth to speak, regardless of whether you are acting on impulse or not.
Even if the conversation has naturally come back to you, take a pause anyway to condition yourself to behave in this way.
Be patient. At first, you’ll probably fail at this nine times out of ten. Yet, over time, this will become eight then seven, until you are finally able to resist the urge to speak every time.
This doesn’t mean you have to resist talking altogether, but it can help you choose your moments and choose what NOT to say.
2. Practice not interrupting people.
This is tied directly into impulse control, but relates specifically to those moments when someone else is speaking and you talk over them.
Or, similarly, you may finish people’s sentences for them rather than allowing them to complete the point they were trying to make.
In these situations, another thing you can do is to wait for a moment of silence to occur before you speak.
Use that silence as a sign that the other person has finished talking, albeit temporarily, and you are free to express your thoughts.
Until that silence, just do your best to focus on what they are saying.
3. Avoid commandeering the conversation.
People like to talk about themselves. It’s almost natural, but some take it too far and end up in the realms of conversational narcissism.
That is, they like to bring a conversation back to themselves over and over again, since this is their favorite topic and the one they know most about.
Or, if they are not particularly interested or engaged with what someone is talking about, they change the topic to something they are more comfortable with.
Sure, conversations do move ground at various points, but this should be once both parties are satisfied that they’ve spoken enough about a topic.
In other words, don’t force a change if it’s clear that the other person wants to continue talking about the current topic.
4. Ask questions.
If you aren’t particularly clear on a topic or have no direct knowledge of it – say, when someone is relaying an experience they’ve had to you – ask questions to better understand.
This helps the other person to work through the point they are trying to make, and it allows you to figure out the most suitable way to respond.
By asking questions, you are giving the other person a chance to speak which means you aren’t dominating the conversation as you otherwise might.
Just be sure to wait for an opportune moment to ask your questions rather than interrupting the other person.
5. Shift gratification to listening.
Earlier, we mentioned that speaking to and getting attention from others can make a person feel better about themselves.
An ego boost, if you will.
Well, it is possible to get a similar feeling by truly listening to people.
But while talking and dominating a conversation is a selfish form of pleasure, listening can provide a shared pleasure.
The other person feels heard and worthy of your time.
You feel a genuine warmth that comes from helping another person and sharing a moment with them.
And this feeling is even more rewarding than an ego boost because it fulfills a very human instinct to connect.
When all you do is speak at someone, you are not sharing anything and you are not connecting with anyone.
So to talk less, you have to shift your mindset from one of selfishness to one of selflessness.
Recognize that listening and engaging in genuine conversation provides greater rewards than talking alone.
6. Accept differences of opinion.
If you tend to do a lot of talking when in the midst of a disagreement, it pays to learn how to accept when other people have views that differ from your own.
This means being able to agree to disagree.
You don’t have to disregard the opposing views, and nor do you have to devalue them by attacking the grounds on which they are made.
Nor do you have to try to convert people to your way of thinking.
Most things worth debating are subjective in nature, and so you ought to try to see how a person might reach a different conclusion to you.
As difficult as it might be, try to step into their shoes and imagine what views you might now hold had you experienced what they had in life.
And look at how you came to believe what you believe and what factors played a role in that.
And, finally, look beyond the opinion being aired and focus on the person.
They may very well be someone whose company you tend to enjoy, and who you respect in many ways.
Show them one more form of respect by allowing them to have their views without needing to justify them to you.
7. Think before you speak.
When you speak, make sure that you have thought twice about what you are about to say.
This ties back into controlling your impulse, but it goes further and requires you to consider the content of your words and the potential consequences they may have.
This is such a big and important topic in itself that we suggest you read our article dedicated to it and the T-H-A-N-K-S method of thinking before you speak.
8. Work on your self-esteem.
If you speak a lot in order to get the validation of other people, you probably need to address some underlying issues of low self-esteem.
Self-esteem is essentially the amount we like the person we are. Some people with low self-esteem do a lot of talking so that others can agree with them, or listen to them at the very least.
This gives them that ego boost which helps to mask the underlying feelings of unease.
Working on your self-esteem may allow you to remain silent in situations where you would normally seek attention and validation.
As in the previous point, we recommend you read one of our other articles on building your self-esteem.
9. Practice being silent.
If you find sitting in silence with someone uncomfortable, you have to immerse yourself in such situations until you realize how easy it can be.
And whilst you are practicing being silent with others, you have to constantly remind yourself that they are, in all likelihood, not feeling awkward at all.
If they felt the same as you do, they would probably try to fill that silence by saying something.
The fact that they are not doing so only goes to show that they probably don’t mind it.
It doesn’t matter if the person is someone close to you or a relative stranger, remaining silent is not such a bad thing.
You don’t have to maintain silence forever, of course. You can, when you feel a new conversation brewing inside of you – or another point relating to the previous conversation – break the silence and raise this.
But you shouldn’t feel obliged to fill a silence with mindless chatter.
10. Put your thoughts down on paper.
If you’re someone who does their best thinking whilst talking about a particular topic or problem, you might get the same organizational benefits from writing your thoughts down.
You can talk whilst you write, but you don’t have to have a one-sided conversation with someone in order to get your thoughts straight.
11. Avoid spreading gossip.
Whether with friends or at work, talking about other people behind their back is not a trait we should celebrate.
And if gossiping is one of the primary ways in which you talk too much, putting a blanket ban on spreading such information can significantly cut the amount you talk.
Ask what you really gain from indulging in gossip and whether you would like it if other people gossiped about you.
The previous points about impulse control, thinking before you speak, and building your self-esteem should all help in this regard.
You may also like:
- 13 Reasons Why People Don’t Listen To You
- 8 Ways Men And Women Communicate Differently
- How To Keep A Conversation Going: 12 No Nonsense Tips!
- How To Sound Smart And Speak More Eloquently