How Do I Have a Conversation with People Who Never Stop Talking?

Can’t seem to get a word in edgewise? Try these tactics to deal with overly chatty people.

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Q. I love being around friends and family. However, I am increasingly annoyed that the people in my life talk nonstop. They don’t ask any questions about how things are going with me. Instead, they yak on and on. If I manage to insert a comment, they ignore it. How can I change this pattern?


A. Incessant talkers can really wear you down. Even a brief chat with such people may leave you feeling as though you've been flattened by the conversational equivalent of a semi. I understand—I really do. But I couldn't help noticing that you seem to be painting everyone in your social circle with the same brush. I would imagine that you know at least a few engaged listeners. Make an effort to seek them out and enjoy their company.

And when you can’t avoid being in the presence of constant chatterers? Set a good example by being an exemplary listener yourself. You’ll be modeling the very sort of focused attention that you wish these folks would pay to you. Plus, if you meet the needs of the needy, they may feel less intent on centering the conversation on themselves and be more willing to talk about you and your concerns. So be mindful of what people say, ask them lots of questions, and see if your good behavior rubs off.

—Catherine Newman

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