Monday, February 20, 2017

Are you a dreaded talker?

I'm an introvert. I like my own company. I'd rather spend an evening in a quiet pub with a couple of mates than hang out in a noisy nightclub full of people. I don't like being the centre of attention, although I'm not averse to a bit of public praise when it's due (not too much, though - I'm quite modest as well. Ha!).

Being an introvert, I'm quite sensitive to being around other people. Not in an anxious way, but I'm always conscious of others and how they are relating to me and those around them. I can't help myself, that's just who I am - sue me.

One group of people I am particularly sensitive to are 'Talkers'. Yes, the ones who yak away incessantly without due regard to social norms. Of course, I'm generalising a bit here, but these people exist and they are out there ... amongst the regular people like you and me.

The difference between Talkers and normal people who like to engage in conversation is that Talkers don't seem capable of listening. It's always a one-sided conversation. They are happy to tell you what they think about something or other but don't actually think about asking your opinion, and if they do ask, they don't listen anyway.

Some Talkers are worse than others. The pathological ones drone on about the same subject for fifteen minutes solid without giving you a chance to contribute. You come away from the encounter emotionally bruised and battered because all you've been thinking about the whole time is how you can a) say something (anything) in the gaps b) excuse yourself without offending your captor c) smash their face in (metaphorically, of course).

I think what makes Talkers who they are is their lack of self awareness. That all-important ability to look beyond yourself and regulate your behaviour. I reckon I'm pretty good at it. I'm not one for talking at great length but if I am talking for an extended period (say, more than a minute), I become very conscious of it and feel the need to wrap up what I'm saying and let someone else have a turn. I guess because I know what things annoy me, I try not do them myself to others.

This is in no way a scientific, psychological analysis of the whole human social interaction thing. It's just my thoughts based on personal experience (I've probably nullified any point I've made by saying that, but it's good to get these things out in the open).

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate these people. As a Christian, I know I am called to love the unlovable, to show mercy and kindness to my fellow human beings. That said, it's OK to acknowledge your feelings – and I can't help feeling the way I do about dreaded Talkers. Argh!

So, if you happen to be one of those dreaded Talkers, just take my advice and learn to sit back and listen rather than open your gob.

You'll be doing your friends a favour as well as yourself.

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