Are You Talking Too Much? Here's How to Know


Acielle for Vogue

The funny thing about someone who talks too much? They're usually unaware they're guilty. This could be you, or maybe there's someone you know that could use a little coaching when it comes to engaging others in conversation versus talking their ear off about everything under the sun. Harvard Business Review is here to help with an informative article that outlines the strategies and guidelines to save yourself from being classified as a blabbermouth.

For starters, the article explains that there is actually a scientific reason people often talk too much—because talking about ourselves releases the pleasure hormone called dopamine. In this case, the habit of talking about yourself could be addicting. Another reason people tend to overdo it is because we, as humans, have an innate hunger to be heard. 

That being said, there is a strategy that will help you understand and identify when and if you're talking too much, and it comes down to the traffic-light rule. As explained by the author, Mark Goulston, the rule is as follows: "In the first 20 seconds of talking, your light is green: Your listener is liking you, as long as your statement is relevant to the conversation and hopefully in service of the other person. But unless you are an extremely gifted raconteur, people who talk for more than roughly half minute at a time are boring and often perceived as too chatty. So the light turns yellow for the next 20 seconds—now the risk is increasing that the other person is beginning to lose interest or think you’re long-winded. At the 40-second mark, your light is red. Yes, there’s an occasional time you want to run that red light and keep talking, but the vast majority of the time, you’d better stop or you’re in danger."

To err on the safe side, the general rule of thumb is to avoid more than 20 seconds of talking without engaging the other person or group in conversation. End of story.

If you often find yourself on the wrong end of the conversation, you might want to invest in a good pair of earbuds from Happy Plugs to avoid getting stuck in the future.