How to Tell Someone They Talk Too Much


When you want to tell someone they talk too much, do not do it in the middle of their blabber. Try finding a suitable moment, for example after a meeting, call them aside and have them pay attention.

Have you ever been struck with someone who talks too much? I mean those folks who won’t stop talking, their questions are rhetoric, they ask you a question and just before you open your mouth, they have answered themselves. They go on and on, talking about their family, their work, politics, the weather, non-ending stories. You wish you had an opportunity to escape the agony. You sense your patience running out and all you want to do is yell “stop talking!”

When you want to tell someone they talk too much, do not do it in the middle of their blabber. Try finding a suitable moment, for example after a meeting, call them aside and have them pay attention. Do not overly explain, be straight forward and tell them why you called them aside. Add a few points on the effects of the habit. Tell them it causes unnecessary conflicts; it disrupts the workflow and displays an ‘ill’ corporate image. End the conversation on a serious note and do not create room for argument.

Do you know why talkative persons tire you? It’s because 60% of anyone’s conversation is about themselves. You may not want to hear it but that is everyone’s favorite topic. I had such an experience once and to make it worse, the guy sprayed spit all over the place as he spoke, damn! That was the longest talk I ever had. This topic came up at a family dinner recently and it’s amazing almost every office has a ‘chatterbox’. How do you deal with them? Here is a simple guide.

How to tell someone they talk too much in the office

1.    Find a suitable moment

Do not try to stop this person in the middle of a conversation; chances are that they will not pay attention to what you want to tell them. They will be in a hurry to go and finish the conversation. Tea breaks and lunch breaks won’t serve the purpose; in fact, any casual moment will most definitely be the wrong timing. This kind of talk requires a solemn mood. Try summoning him or her after a meeting, that way you can have a minute or two to address the issue.

2.    Address the issue directly

Once you have their attention, realize you have a short time before they interrupt you. Use a recent example to hammer the point. For example, you can point out how they behaved in the meeting. Address the person respectfully and avoid getting carried away by emotions even if you are pissed off.

You can use this sample message to tell someone they talk too much in the office.

“Miss Ann, I noticed you took a lot of time to explain your points in the meeting. You interrupted others while they spoke and took over the meeting leaving other staff minimal or no time to speak. That’s not fair. I know you are a talkative person but I need you to minimize your chats. Sometimes they affect your production, cause conflicts, and disorient others while they work. Recently I overheard you talk about other staff’s personal issues. I don’t know if you realize but that amounts to gossip. You need to minimize your chats before they become a disciplinary issue. I hope we are clear.”

3.    Follow-up on the talk

In most instances, that sermonette will trigger more chatting, this time heated but a bit secretive. You have a role to follow up. Maybe not in another meeting but in passing you can mention it. As you walk past their desk, or as they leave work, simply say hi and follow with ‘I hope you are working on what we discussed’.  

Altering such a habit takes time and you will have an extra responsibility to consistently check progress. As with every other behavior, motivation helps quicken change. You can find out what the person likes and use it as a motivator.

How to tell a friend or family member they talk too much

The initial feeling of being with someone who talks too much is ‘I’m trapped’. If it’s a family member or a person you regularly interact with, you’ll stop looking forward to meeting them. You feel suffocated almost immediately. Only a few people manage to address the issue because it requires lots of courage and usually births awkward moments.

The good thing is, if you risk correcting the incessant talker, you both benefit. You stop getting frustrated and they gain social acceptance when they correct the habit. Since they are a close relation and you want to preserve the friendship, you need to address the issue firmly but with sensitivity. Call them to attention. You can use “can I interrupt you?” or “may I help you with a thought?” or “Jane, I have noticed something…” Once you get their attention, go straight to the point.

Here is what you can say,

“Over lunch today, I noticed you talked most of the time. When I tried to talk, you talked over me, when mom tried to talk, you talked over her too, you did that to most of us and we ended up having a monologue. This has happened in previous meals too and I feel you tend to overshadow us, maybe you don’t realize but it leaves us hanging.”

The first reaction will be justification, avoid getting into an argument or extending the argument further. Let them deal with it. Maybe the best reward you will receive is silence; take it positively. Remember you have just begun the journey and there will be plenty of follow-ups before the habit is rectified.

Finally

If you are trapped in a monologue with a stranger and getting suffocated, you don’t have to correct them. Correcting a stranger may not give you the results you expect. After all, it’s just for a brief moment. Feel free to excuse yourself and walk out of the room or move to another table. You can simply say “excuse me, sorry to interrupt you, I need to leave”, or “excuse me, I need to step away for a moment”.

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Becky

Am a graduate sociologist and a regular contributor to national publications such as the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Journal of Applied Social Science and the Annual Review of Sociology.

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