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This is one of a series of brief articles on how
to respond effectively to annoying social
behavior. An effective response occurs
when you get your
well enough, and both people feel
heard and respected enough.
This article offers useful responses to
someone who tends to talk without stopping. It assumes you're familiar with...
Is there someone in your life who often talks
"non-stop"? When they do, how do you feel?
How do you normally respond -
Endure (repress your needs)? Tune out?
Interrupt? Hint? Avoid conflict? Leave? Pretend
interest? Joke? Fidget? Complain? Blame?
responses usually indicate what you need
with a non-stop talker - for example...
to be included
yourself (honor your integrity);
confrontation or conflict;
to preserve or
improve your relationship;
to be "polite,"
"considerate," and not "hurt the person's
to attend to
something else ("not waste time");
to have a
dialog, not a monolog;
to change the
subject if you're bored or disinterested;
to inform the
person what they're doing, and how it
(meet your and their needs well enough);
you may have several needs at
once, which may
and paralyze you, and/or cause frustration and
When this is true, it often means a
controls you locally. To best fill your
several needs, you need your
to guide you.
Why do people monolog?
person and situation is unique, they may
avoid an uncomfortable dialog; or...
keep control of the situation (avoid
be understood and validated on a
topic; or to...
release "nervous energy;" or...
pass the time safely; or to...
tell an important story (again, as in
grieving); or need...
When you're with someone who fills needs like
these by monologing (keeping a one-person
to notice (a) the other person's
monologing, (b) how you feel, and
(c) what you need in this situation
needed, mentally review these
they become automatic;
Watch for a chance to interrupt the other
person, and say one or more of these:
me. Can I give you some personal feedback
If s/he says
"No" or "OK, But first let me ______ ;"
choose the right time to demand:
"I need you to stop (talking)
and listen to me now." Repeat this
until s/he stops.
"When you talk
non-stop, I tune you out."
talking nonstop for ____ minutes. Are you
aware of that?"
"When you talk
on and on and don't seek any response from
me, I feel ignored, disrespected, and
"Can you sum up what you need me to
know here?" (If s/he does, offer a
to demonstrate you've heard the
"(Name), what do you need from me
right now?" If s/he ignores or
discounts you, try...
"(Name), who's needs are more
important to you now - yours or mine?"
The best answer is "Both of ours."
"Here's what I
need from you right now: __________,
_________, and ________."
really not interested in all that detail."
Use the theme of these
sincerity, directness, and respect)
your own responses to fit the situation.
by a false self may "resist" responses like
these. They may ignore you, complain, deny,
excuse, explain, get sarcastic, blame,
whine, go silent, etc.
Expect this normal reaction, and
affirm it with respectful
Then calmly repeat your original
with steady eye contact. Repeat this
sequence until you get your needs met well
enough or your needs change.
Back away from these details, and compare these
examples to the way you're used to responding
to distractions. Are you motivated to try these
options and see what happens?