Talka­holics, tone it down

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

HAVE you ever asked a col­league or your boss a ques­tion with the ex­pec­ta­tion of a brief an­swer but in­stead you were bom­barded with a lengthy lec­ture?

On the other hand, have you ever asked for di­rec­tions only to re­ceive a long ram­bling ex­pla­na­tion that left you more con­fused than be­fore? Or, have you ever worked with some­one who is a non-stop talker to such an ex­tent you’ve half-heart­edly la­belled them “mo­tor­mouth”?

While ef­fec­tive in­ter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the work­place is crit­i­cal to ca­reer suc­cess, some­one who is a com­pul­sive “talka­holic” will not only up­set the in­ter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion bal­ance in the work­place but they will also doom their own ca­reer pro­gres­sion.

Talka­holics seem to get on a ver­bal roll and don’t know when to stop. They sim­ply talk too much. Not only that, they in­ad­ver­tently dom­i­nate con­ver­sa­tions and can be quite ar­gu­men­ta­tive.

Talka­holics might well ask you a ques­tion, but give you no chance to an­swer be­fore they in­ter­rupt and be­gin re­lay­ing their own story. They don’t seem to rec­og­nize the need for bal­ance in a con­ver­sa­tion. They don’t seem to rec­og­nize the give and take needed be­tween a talker and a lis­tener. They sim­ply talk, talk, talk and talk.

Lis­ten­ing to a com­pul­sive talka­holic can be painful. In many cases, peo­ple feel trapped, and when pos­si­ble, they’ll try to avoid the talker and/or state right up front that their time to lis­ten is lim­ited. As a lis­tener be­comes more un­com­fort­able, they’ll try to use body lan­guage to in­di­cate their dis­com­fort. The prob­lem is the talker may not be sen­si­tive to th­ese sig­nals and will sim­ply keep on talk­ing. In ex­treme cases, the lis­tener may sim­ply walk away in ex­as­per­a­tion. Af­ter all, this type of one-way con­ver­sa­tion sug­gests dis­re­spect for the lis­tener.

It doesn’t take much thought to re­al­ize the neg­a­tive im­pact a talka­holic can have on work­place re­la­tion­ships as well as one’s ca­reer. When peo­ple de­lib­er­ately avoid a talka­holic, there’s not only lit­tle chance for pro­mo­tion, the in­di­vid­ual won’t be wel­comed on any team projects. Lis­ten­ing to a talka­holic be­comes just too ex­haust­ing.

Since be­ing la­belled a talka­holic is a big ca­reer price for any­one to pay, I sug­gest en­gag­ing in self re­flec­tion to as­sess your own risks and to de­velop some strate­gies to avoid this pit­fall. Some of the fol­low­ing guide­lines might help.

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