Not too long ago I was invited to dinner at my neighbor’s apartment. She’s a middle-aged lady, recently separated, and I think she’s a bit lonely. Let’s call her Cheryl.
She often knocks on our door to ask some quick question. This seemingly meaningless question usually leads to a longer monolog about what’s happening in her life and the latest gossip.
Problem is, she doesn’t seem to have an “off-button”. She never notices that she’s the only one talking and after a while, I have to come up with some sort of contrived excuse to end the conversation.
This problem was put on its head last weekend when she invited me and my girlfriend for dinner. I actually think it was a nice initiative, I think people talk too little with those around them nowadays.
Anyway, we went to the dinner and it was actually pretty nice.
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She was the one doing most of the talking of course, but she asked us a few questions from time to time. But when we had finished eating, we didn’t have any excuse to leave so we stayed there, talking.
At this point, her questions about us had stopped long ago, now it was a pure monolog. She was very disappointed in Swedish health care. I know, because that’s the only thing she talked about for 4 hours…
I’m honestly dumbfounded on how some people can talk forever without looking for input from anyone else. If I’m having a conversation and the other person doesn’t really contribute, I quickly lose interest in talking because I don’t see the point in talking about something if the other person isn’t interested.
I don’t want Cheryl to sound like a bad person in any way because she’s not. She’s very nice and friendly. I would actually have liked to invite her over for dinner (if it wasn’t for her endless talking).
Yesterday, Cheryl knocked on my door with a gift for me and my partner. It’s her home-made Finnish wine made from lemons and raisins. How nice isn’t that? The problem isn’t that she should be nicer. It’s that she is almost only interested in talking about herself and her opinions.
If Cheryl would show more interest in others, we’d probably be reasonably close. Maybe we’d share a cup of tea from time to time. But as it stands now, I try to avoid “getting stuck” with her, because I know she doesn’t have an “off button”.
It makes me a little sad thinking about it.
On the other hand, there’s something valuable we can learn from this: Even small changes in our behavior can make a massive difference in how we are perceived.
Do you have any similar experiences with people who talk too much? I and David would love to read your stories in the comments here.
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