I hold the phone far away from my ear, somehow thinking if I do this the other person will know what I’m doing and stop talking. They don’t! Words are flung at me rapidly, drilling down into tiny details, with the compulsive talker unaware of my frustration at the other end. They are comfortable with my slight mumblings or silence.
I would occasionally interject a thought, and there would be quiet at the other end, maybe they are listening, yet as soon as I take a breath, they pick up exactly where they left off. If they take in what I’ve said, they are off on a tangent with their thoughts about the subject. It’s not fair, and I hate this experience.
What I love is a lively conversation, even if we are interrupting each other, bouncing back and forth, adding tidbits of ideas, sharing experiences, and all the time listening to the other person and, at a moment’s notice, can stop and be present to them. It’s beautiful to receive and to give the gift of listening.
When I’m on with the compulsive talker, no one is present as both of us are in our worlds. We are not listening to each other.
A half an hour later I finally hang up the phone and say aloud to myself, “I’m fine too.” It’s my way of recognizing the other person didn’t even ask how I was doing. Relieved I’m no longer cornered by their words I try to shake off the negative feelings within me. There must be a better way.
I believe that I am in charge of my reactions, so I start to process just what happened. I sat on the phone listening to a person drill down into every single detail of their lives…their children or grandchildren, work, their feelings, complaints, and the list goes on. I’ve cleaned the kitchen, straighten up the papers on my desk, read my email, and do whatever I could to distract myself from experience.
Why do I stay on the phone? They are good people, I have a history with them and am not ready to relinquish the relationship. We all use our friends to share our experiences and help us sort through an issue in our lives. What frustrates me is the friend whose motor starts, and they don’t know how to stop it. I’ve always wondered whether they would be great writers because their tenacity for details is incredible.
I don’t want to subject myself to another marathon of words, so how do I deal with the issue going forward?
I’ve decided I wasn’t going to speak on the phone as much. I’ve noticed that face-to-face interaction with compulsive talkers works better because they receive feedback. It may not stop the behavior but at least lessens the duration of the experience.
They can bring fun times with them, but I do know that their compulsive behavior will surface, so I limit the time we spend together, and I don’t build up a reservoir of frustration with this person.
Finally, if I choose to be with them or talk on the phone, I surround us both with a circle of love. I take responsibility for creating an atmosphere that supports my well-being.
Relationships are important to me, and over the years I’ve learned that it’s a balancing act between loving the other person as they are and ensuring my well-being.
How do you balance your relationship with a compulsive talker? Have you learn of different ways to not get caught by a compulsive talker?
Women’s Group Topics
Compulsive talkers also show up in groups. How does your group respectfully handle individuals who like to talk a lot?
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”