Image Source: Linda Wagner
I’ve just spent the last five minutes completely ignoring somebody as they rattle on about how annoying such-and-such is because “they just talk forever and there’s no point to it”. How ironic.
People lacking in verbal communication awareness have always interested me. Well, if I’m being completely honest, such people actually annoy the freaking hell out of me. Specifically, I mean those who talk incessantly about themselves and overshare their opinion with little regard for your contribution to the ‘conversation’.
It seems to me that such people fail to recognise or appreciate the fact that conversations are a two-way street. You know the types I mean – those who are oblivious to the fact that there must be give and take in verbal communication to enable a balanced, fulfilling and respectful interaction.
* Maybe they’ve been a friend of yours for years, a sociable, talkative extrovert who rarely lets you get a word in and gibbers on incessantly?
* Maybe they’re a work colleague who constantly breaks your concentration with every minute detail of their life and ‘ground-breaking’ views?
* Maybe they’re a family member who always seems to direct the conversation back to them whenever you’re attempting to express yourself?
* Maybe they’re an authoritative figure who monopolises conversations and is unreceptive to contributions to the conversation by anyone besides themselves?
* Maybe they’re your partner who often seems to lack the ability to listen effectively and has a habit of interrupting you when you are speaking?
Yes, it’s easy to point the finger and cry that such people are inconsiderate, controlling, self-centred, and in need of validation. If this was true, however, we would be looking at a population saturated with sociopaths. As sociopaths account for only four per cent of the population, I believe that the key trait held by the majority of these dysfunctional communicators is a lack of awareness.
I really hope so, as I can confidently say that much more than four per cent of people in my life are predisposed to providing me with an auditory overload!
To be fair, it’s true that most people love nothing more than to talk about themselves. Self-satisfaction and much enjoyment can be achieved when talking about oneself. We are able to offload and vent our emotions, share knowledge and humour, work through thoughts and feelings and express independent views and interpretations.
However, there are those who seem to prefer talking at you, not with you. It’s these people who are missing out on a vital component in personal growth and a living a full and rewarding life – the knowledge and fulfilment gained through balanced and respectful communication.
* Not all people are interested in hearing every single detail about your weekend, the highlights are perfectly adequate…
* That person you just interrupted (again) was actually trying to help you…
* Your verbal display of expertise relating to your field of knowledge is fascinating to you, but others may find it boring…
Conversations aren’t about waiting for the other person to finish so that you can have your turn – communication isn’t a game. Conversations are about sharing knowledge, offering support, wisdom and insight in addition to creating a bond with others through a delicate balance of give and take.
This requires a heavy dose of compassion and awareness – self-awareness and awareness of others.
Personally, I have tried numerous attempts at handling the incessant talkers in my life. Standing my ground and demanding that my voice be heard hasn’t worked (as the volume or urgency of the talker simply increases, or, my behaviour is perceived as rude). Pointing out the dominating conversational style to the individual hasn’t worked (people can only change if they believe that they have a problem, or care). Admitting defeat and keeping my mouth shut hasn’t worked (as it destroyed my soul, to put it bluntly)!
Reducing contact with these energy-saps can help, however you’re left dreading your next interaction with them.
So, what is there left to do the next time you’re faced with the incessant rude talker in your life? Well, instead of becoming frustrated, hurt and angry, there is one last self-preservation tactic worth trying in order to preserve what’s left of your sanity.
That is, to simply ignore them. “Yeah”, “uh huh”, “mmm hmm” is banned from your vocabulary when they’re rudely ranting on. No positive or engaging body language either. In fact, if they’ve been disrespectful enough, you’re allowed to walk away.
Even if they fail to detect your disengagement (which is often the case), at least you have less invested in the conversation so that you can concentrate on more important things.
“What’s that thing-a-ma-jig again? Oh yeah, MY life.”
Yes, ignoring is a difficult task for the people pleasers out there, but remember that reinforcing negative and destructive behaviour doesn’t do anyone any favours. You deserve better than to let other peoples words metaphorically walk all over you.