Whether it’s in our social circle, our family, or at work, there’s at least one person who never seems to stop talking. They draw out meetings longer than necessary, they share personal memories that aren’t relevant to anyone else, or they give unsolicited advice at precisely the wrong time. They may even be someone who doesn’t know how to explain themselves or tell a story, and they bore their listeners without even realizing it.
The result is often that these people are rejected and marginalized by those around them. We avoid inviting them to parties, dinners, and other social events. Little by little, we push them away from our social circle.
But people who don’t know when to stop talking aren’t necessarily bad or “toxic” people. Sometimes they’re boring because they take too long to get to a conclusion that everybody has already grasped, or they linger on details that other people don’t find interesting. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad or harmful people to have around.
Maybe these people are, rather, an opportunity for us to grow personally and to learn to be more empathetic and understanding.
So, what can we do to manage our relationship these people better? Here are seven helpful ideas:
Take it as a challenge to grow in virtue
When a person talks too much it’s a chance to practice patience.
Show them love and respect
If you let them know in words and actions that you care about them, respect them, and love them — in a way appropriate to your relationship — you can gently intervene when necessary to guide the conversation without insulting them.
Appreciate their value
Don’t stop inviting them to participate in your social life. More often than not, they will have something valuable to contribute — and sooner or later, they’ll be thankful for your patience, too.
Remember, actions speak louder than words
Keep in mind that you’re giving an example, especially if you spend time with this person in a family setting. Loving everyone is a lesson best taught to our children through actions. If we want our children to be empathetic, we need to practice it ourselves.
Identify other people in your circle who appreciate your long-winded friend or family member, and who are willing to help either keep them on track or listen patiently.
When conversing with someone like this, propose interesting topics of conversation, and invite others who are better conversationalists to participate. Don’t let someone who doesn’t know when to stop talking dominate the conversation (and try to avoid topics you know are “danger zones,” where the person in question will be tempted to give an entire lecture).
Keep a sense of humor at all times
Never be disrespectful, but allow yourself to laugh about situations that arise. When people who don’t know when to stop talking become self-aware of their tendency, they may not manage to change, but they might even be able to laugh at themselves from time to time.
The upshot: We all have defects, and need to be patient and loving with each other. Just as we may be putting up with people being a bit pedantic or long-winded, they are surely putting up with us being vain, impatient, superficial, or whatever our own weakness is. We need to look beyond the defects to see the person that God lovingly created, to love and to be loved by others in turn.
The fascinating reason we make snap judgments about people
Struggling with patience? Let this famously impatient saint help you