Dear Dr. Archer,
I have the classic problem of talking too much. I know I do this, yet I can't stop myself. I don't want to lose the friends I have. Please help!
I'm glad you realize you have a problem. Many tend to forget that in the art of conversation, talking is less than half the art. More important is learning to keep the mouth closed and listening. This shows you have an interest in and respect for the other.
Conversation -- talking and listening, opens the opportunity for trust and provides the chance to learn what others need. As usual, too much of a good thing is not good, and that definitely includes talking. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you listen more than talk:
• You don't have to say everything that enters your mind. Some things, Taz, are better left unsaid.
• Think before you speak. Is it positive or really helpful? Better to remain quiet than regret something you said later.
• Fight the urge to interrupt when someone is talking. It's rude, and you wouldn't want someone doing that to you.
• Show restraint. Don't talk just to talk, even if you have tell yourself (mentally, not audibly) to keep quiet, keep quiet, keep quiet.
• If you must say something, be brief. Try to get it out in as few words as possible.
Please heed the true words of Meg Greenfield: "There is such a thing as tempting the gods. Talking too much, too soon and with too much self-satisfaction has always seemed to me a sure way to court disaster. The forces of retribution are always listening. They never sleep." When you speak, make sure it's relevant, interesting and positive.
Be conscious of your behavior -- only YOU have control of your actions. Ask why you talk too much -- is it because you're nervous and anxious? Is it because you feel like you need to be a 'know it all'? Do you enjoy the sound of your voice? Do you dislike the sound of silence?
Whatever the reason, no matter how wonderful your personality, no one will put up with you for long if you don't listen to what they have to say. This is going to require self-control, Taz. If you truly put forth your best effort and yet still keep blabbing, this may be a compulsive behavior that will require professional help. Good luck!
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