People are talking about you, and not necessarily in a good way. You’re getting a funny feeling from friends, family, coworkers and if you just shut up for a second they might very well tell you you talk too damn much. That you’re a Talkaholic.

The term Talkaholic was coined in 1993 by researchers James McCroskey & Virginia Richmond. In their report “Identifying Compulsive Communicators: The Talkaholic Scale” they write: “[A] characteristic of the talkaholic is that he/she will continue to communicate even though he/she knows it is not in her/his own best interest. Talkaholics talk themselves in to trouble when all they would have to do to stay out of it would be to keep quiet. … This person is very much aware of her/his own behavior but is unable or unwilling to change it.”

Think this sounds like you? In Dan Lyons new book STFU: The Power of Keeping your Mouth Shut In An Endlessly Noisy World, he suggests taking the test Mr. McCroskey and Ms. Richmond created, The Talkaholic Scale, to find out. When you tally your score it will give you a picture of how much of a talker you really are. The test assigns scores between 10 and 50. If your results fall between 30 and 39 you’re a borderline High Talker and if you’re above 40, you are a Talkaholic.

But you don’t have to take a test to know that running your mouth is hindering your family, social and work interactions. You may realize that all your talking annoys those around you but you just keep talking no matter what. You ignore all social cues to pipe down, you gloss over the interruptions of others trying to get you to hold your tongue. And you continue to finish your point as they walk away.

So where does this compulsion come from? Social anxiety and nervousness can lead to overtalking. There’s a perception that people like friendly people and you’re just being friendly by talking, right? Joining in makes you feel like you’re accepted, respected, a member of the group. You want to contribute, voice your opinions and have them be heard. Unfortunately, all this joining in can backfire and lead to you feeling shunned and embarrassed when others make a lame excuse and a hasty retreat from your conversation.

An aspect of your long-windedness may be a need to fill up silent spaces. A lull in conversation can feel like immediate rejection of you, your thoughts and ideas. Instead of recognizing that the other person is pondering your point you get nervous and uncomfortable, and perceive the pause as being rejected. And you assume that since you feel awkward they must feel the same so you rush to fill that space with your voice.

What can you do about it? Well, like other isms there’s no cure for Talkaholism but recovery is possible and there are tools and techniques you can utilize to curb your chatty nature to become a better, more thoughtful conversationalist.

In keeping with the STFU theme of Mr. Lyon’s book, push your pause button and STFD – Slow The F*** Down. You can be so overenthusiastic about needing to be heard that before you know it all sorts of ridiculous things can come tumbling out of your mouth. Slowing down can strengthen your impulse control which will help you to think before you speak.

Start a practice of measured breathing as a relaxation technique to slow your heart and calm your nerves. Before you jump into a conversation, take a breath into your nose for the count of 4 and then exhale through your mouth for the same count. Repeat this exercise 4 or 5 times or until you feel yourself in a more relaxed state. It will help you to think more clearly and think things through before you start blurting out whatever pops into your head.

Develop a habit of active listening. Just as you want everyone to hear what you have to say keep in mind that everyone else wants to be heard, too! Resist the urge to interrupt and let the person you’re talking with finish their thought. More than just allowing them to finish, actually listen to what they have to say. Pay attention to the point they’re making so you can reply on topic and be a part of the conversation instead of monopolizing the whole thing.

Learn to ask questions. Actively engaging in conversation means moving the topic along. Asking pertinent questions about the subject being discussed is a great way to show that you’re paying attention. And it makes the person who’s speaking feel that you are actually engaged in what they’re saying and not poised to foist your opinion on them.

Practice being in silence. If the mere thought of this freaks you out too much you can start with taking some time each day to just be quiet so you can get used to it. At home or at work take a break, put down your phone and find someplace where you can just go and sit for a few minutes to regroup and give your brain a rest. Take this time to practice your breathing exercises. It needn’t be long or elaborate, just a few minutes to STFD. Sit with yourself and just be, no matter how excruciating it may seem. If you can be quiet with yourself you can be quieter with others.

Then there’s the flip side of the coin. What do you do when there’s a talkaholic who revolves in your universe? When you live or work with a Talkaholic, have a client who rambles on and on, the constant babbling and interruptions can drive you nuts! You don’t want to be rude but sometimes it’s best to fight fire with fire. Interjecting with a phrase like “How did everything end up?” can help direct them to the point they’re trying to make. In a social or work situation, try redirecting what they’re saying to another member of the group: “That’s great, I think Fred had a similar experience”.

If these efforts fail and you’ve had it up to your ears with them, come right out and tell them that struggling to have a conversation with them is not a pleasant experience for you. Not in front of a group, of course, but in private and using compassion to let them know that your exasperation level has reached its limit.

The Talkaholic’s reaction could go either way. They may react sheepishly, admitting that they know it’s not their best habit. This is a good opportunity for you to share tools and techniques they can use to quell this habit. Or, they could get all defensive which can be uncomfortable but stick to your guns. Express to them why it’s important for you to speak up about how you feel in order for you both to have a good relationship. Either way, you are taking proactive steps toward maintaining your sanity while coexisting with the overtalkers in your life.

Recovery from anything is a process which can be difficult to go through alone. For you Talkaholics out there who need support in activating the tools and techniques needed to quiet your world the support of a Recovery Coach, while seemingly unconventional, may be just the thing for you. Recovery Coaches are well versed in strengthening impulse control and are experienced with the tools and techniques you’ll need on your journey to a quieter life. Contact Cindy at 631-921-4085 for more information about how a Recovery Coach can help you bolster your resolve to STFU.


If this sounds like you, someone you know or someone you work with, The Recovery Coach NY provides Individual and Family Coaching, Companions & Transport, Intervention and emergency services for you and your loved ones. For more information and additional services, go to our website:



The Recovery Coach NY has years of experience and a vast array of resources that can help those in need find the path to the life they deserve, filled with joy and purpose. We come with an empathetic ear and solution-oriented actions that can begin to bring the relief you and your loved one seek.

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