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Do you have a family member that talks more than they listen?
We all seem to have a family member who gets under our skin just about every time we talk to them. Even the most tolerant, patient and loving person has pet peeves and certain people just push our buttons.
My personal pet peeve is people who talk too much and are not truly “present” during a conversation. Sure, we all check out every now and then depending on what all is going on at the time. Or perhaps we are nervous in a certain situation and rattle on more than we should to fill awkward pauses. However, there are those who behave this way consistently in conversations with others.
Characteristics of people who talk too much
You know the type. These people like to hear themselves talk and seem to think there is nothing you can add to the conversation they don’t already know. They have an inflated sense of self-importance, need attention and desperately want to impress others. It’s exasperating to try to communicate with this self-centered personality type, often referred to as conversational narcissisism. Here are the specific behaviors that really get to me:
People who talk too much don’t ask questions
Rarely does this type of person ask questions. Why would they? It’s much more fun to talk about themselves. If they do ask a question, and usually it’s just one, they interrupt your answer quickly to relate something you said back to themselves. It’s obvious they are more focused on their next response than on what you are saying.
People who talk too much answer questions you don’t ask
This personality type also happily answers questions, but more often than not, the answer is not actually a response to the question asked. Is this because they weren’t listening in the first place to your questions? Or is it because they don’t know the answer and don’t want to admit it? Either way, I don’t appreciate the long-winded monologue that inevitably follows. At best, listening to their response is boring, but honestly, that’s not such a big deal in a casual setting when you asked the question simply to make conversation. However, it’s extremely frustrating when you ask for a question to which you actually need or want a thoughtful answer.
People who talk too much give unsolicited advice and are know-it-alls
Advice not asked for is really just criticism. It’s as simple as that. People who give advice, often without bothering to fully understand the situation or ask questions for clarification, are letting you know they know better than you what’s best for you. Why would someone be arrogant enough to think they know what’s best for another adult, especially without knowing the important details? And think about how it feels when someone says “I know just how you feel” at a time you need support. No one knows how someone else feels; this is just a way to control the conversation and bring it back around to focus on them. It’s a backhanded way of letting you know they don’t need to hear more about the situation. They’re not interested. In both these scenarios, these individuals are not trying to be helpful, rather they just want you to know they know more than you.
Why some people hijack conversations
Some people talk a lot because they are extremely arrogant and self-centered. They may give the initial impression of confidence, but it is more likely they are compensating for extreme insecurity, such as is the case with narcissists. For them, the conversation is about getting attention; they are not trying to relate or empathize with the other person.
Do you want to continue a relationship with people who don’t listen?
First of all, you need to decide if you want to continue the relationship. The unfortunate reality is that people who act this way are difficult to be around. Is it worth the frustration?
If the person is a casual friend, probably not. You don’t have to cut this person out of your life, but you also don’t need to engage extensively with them either. Greet them politely when you see them, then go on your way.
If the person is a family member, as in my case, the situation becomes more complicated. I care about this person, and I know he cares about me in his own way. I don’t want to sever the relationship. Whether or not it’s possible to have a close relationship is a different story. It depends on the person; some people are educable, while others are not.
Ways to interact with people who don’t listen
It’s easier to allow someone to talk at you than assert yourself. You can listen politely while they drone on and chances are they won’t notice if you zone out. However, this is not communication, which requires both parties participate. Here are a few ways you can try to interact better with this personality type.
Interrupt the over talker
I don’t like to interrupt because it’s rude. However, my family member, the over talker, interrupts frequently without hesitation. When I get tired of it, and he does not stop to take a breath to let me get a word in, I interject. It’s difficult, because he will call me on the interruption and say, “hey, I was in the middle of a story”. If I have something important to say, I continue to assert myself. For example, I might say, “Can you let me finish please? I listened to what you had to say and I’d like to respond”. They probably won’t feel warmly toward you,but will likely let you continue.
Stop being a people pleaser and feigning interest
Many of our parents raised us to be people pleasers and put the feelings of others’ before ourselves. But you do not need to feel compelled to stay in the situation. Continuing to listen despite your discomfort and lack of interest encourages the talker to continue. Stop hiding your displeasure and/or signs of boredom. Looking away gives a pretty strong message, though it doesn’t always work. In that case make an excuse and walk away. You are not a captive audience.
Share your feelings with them
If this is an ongoing situation and an important relationship, you might want to tactfully initiate a conversation about the issue. Tell them you feel your interactions are one-sided and not a dialogue. Be prepared they may be defensive at first, but if they value your opinion and the relationship, they will think about what you said. And if they don’t? Well, that’s valuable information too.
The bottom line
Those who don’t listen, make everything about themselves and fail to show interest or respect for others, tend to annoy people. These individuals seem to unfortunately be completely unaware of how others perceive them. They are not bad people, but that doesn’t make it any easier to spend time with them. If the relationship is important, and they are unwilling or unable to change, you might need to accept that you can only have a superficial relationship with this person. It’s difficult to feel close to someone who does not listen to you or value your input. Learn to set boundaries, and if you feel it might help, tell them how you feel about the behavior.
Do you have someone in your life who monopolizes the conversation?