Do you talk too much or too fast?

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Hey, I do!  This seems to me so familiar.  On the one hand it is a wonderful advantage.  It is partly the skill that has enabled me to create this website and to share so much with all of you.  But it has also caused me a lot of trouble – "because it drives people crazy."

If this is also your "problem," or if you are connected to someone with this "problem," then this article may be for  you.

First, let me share why I talk so much.  I came out of childhood remarkably needy of attention.  Way back in 1975 or so, I was in an Encounter Group of about 30 people meeting at a church.  The leader pointed out that he thought  that I would use all sorts of tactics to draw attention to myself.  Quickly defending myself, I said, “No! I don’t do that!”  He then stopped the group and asked the general question of everyone present, “Do you notice that Al draws attention to himself often? Raise your hands.”   Lots of hands went up, and I got the message.  (By the way, this experience was so shameful for me, that I left the group and never went back.  Great learning often seems to be surrounded by pain.)

I recall from childhood watching my father turn to a guest,  and speaking of me would say something like, “He just likes to get a lot of attention.”  I think there was a lot of shaming in my past about needing attention and “being needy.”   

As I came to grips with this problem, as I came to own it and take responsibility for it, I learned to call myself “Insatiable” as a way of warding off the shame.  No matter how much attention people would give me, I would want more.  You can check out my articles on Reliable Membership or It's Not Fair to read more on this problem that affects many of us. 

But some good things came my way.  My parents were very verbal people.  They talked a lot, and had lots and lots of books in the house.  And they were “polite.”  Well, at least they seemed that way.  If a person was talking, they would seem to listen – even to kids. I learned, from them, to get attention by speaking and speaking and speaking.  I especially learned to string my sentences together so closely that no one could interrupt me.  And to do this, I had to learn to think about what I would say next – so that I could string the new idea onto the old one.   It worked, so I got better and better at it. 

I became an easy speaker.  While the content of what I was saying wasn’t as important as the “how much” and “how quickly,” it still worked.  As I got older, and left home, I found that I had better come up with interesting things to share.  And that is partially how I am who I am. 

On the other hand, this “chatty Cathy” behavior can drive people crazy.  While I am sharing my “interesting thoughts strung all together closely,”  I did not learn to give others a chance to speak or even time to digest what I was saying.  And thus my wife and I began the wonderful Clinger/Avoider dance – me talking too much, too fast; and she trying to find a time to speak at all, or just giving up.  Clingers have got to learn to create plenty of space for others to talk.  Take my word for it.  This is the Testicle Principle.

I have included an audio file of a most wonderful comedy presentation of the words of Mark Twain put together in a presentation by Hal Holbrook many years ago.  Jim Blane is a man who had a remarkable memory for details.  He tells the remarkable story of “Grandpa and the Ram”, and every time he runs into a detail that has nothing to do with his story — he stops and tells all about it.  Enjoy a man who talks too much and too fast, but does it well.  

Listen to GrandFather and the Ram.



Do you talk too much or too fast? — 2 Comments

  1. Interesting observations. I like the term “verbal flatulence”. Kinda mouth farting. I also like that sound of “threat” that you are leaving. “The one who can leave, has all the power.” But leaving doesn’t seem to work to make things better. I fear it’s just an exit. I would suggest you get better at the skill of practicing “leaving” and using less “threat.” It’s tricky.

    Oh and by the way, others can try to abuse you, but only you can let them be successful. Tis one of the things I’ve learned. Good luck.

  2. Al –

    This is NOT a Hal Holbrook warm-‘n-fuzzy evening with Mark Twain.

    This is despair.

    You (and my spouse) seem to think it is OK to dismiss your condition as something related to your childhood. You seem to think the fault is with us, that we can not understand your needs. Well if you stayed alone and in that childhood perhaps your “logic” would be sufficient. But you are not alone, and neither am I. You and I have a spouse and children with whom we owe genuine, unrestricted, real conversation. We owe them intimacy. And waiting for you to blow what ever is lerking in that unlimited sewer of verbal content that you call a mind will never give us a chance to share our souls with you.

    While you are blabbering on you are missing your chance at happiness. For the time being we want to untie with you in real verbal intemacy … we want to talk. But when we married it was with the understanding that we would share … not just the beef stew or the car or a house … but we would share our hopes and dreams, we would share each other, we would talk. How can that be if you talk without limit? How can that be if the kids and I feel like we are standing at some NYC intersection waiting for the stop light to turn green, knowing that it may be a long time coming?

    Face it, you are abusing us with your verbal flatulence. And until you can craft a converational style that intertwines you and us in love, then every word you manufacture drives us closer to leaving you.

    The choice and the risk is yours. Nothing is forever. How much loger do you want to play verbal roulette?

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