Listening to an excessive talker can either sharpen or dull your listening skills. When you are listening to a talkative person, it is hard to ask clarifying questions because they do not want to be questioned, second-guessed or interrupted. If you ask a question, the person may ask were you not listening, and they may state, “I just talked for 30 minutes and you did not hear a word I said”. This can create immediate defensiveness on the part of the listener, which is unfortunate, especially in a business environment.
It is hard to remember with precision everything the excessive communicator mentions. Keeping up with their pace and excessive dialogue presents challenges. When the person talks, they do not stop for breathes or pause for a casual interjection by the listener. When you attempt to interject, it could be perceived as rude and depending upon where the person is in the conversation they may welcome the interjection or become irritated that you interrupted them while they were mind dumping. Following the cliché, “you can not get a word in edge wise”.
Hence, listening skills can become negatively affected because the talker may not appreciate you asking clarifying questions. Their reaction may be to marginalize you, discount or resent your comment, or belittle you to the point you do not want to ask another question for fear of verbal abuse. When put on the spot to answer a question posed by the communicator, the listener’s could react with a deer in the headlight stare and respond hesitantly for fear of showing their mental cloudiness caused by trying to follow the communicator.
Parents usually teach their children not to interrupt a person when they are talking. Children as taught to let the communicator finish before interrupting and seek to understand in the active listening process. Stephen Covey’s 8th principle is related to the walking stick that Native Americans held while someone was talking, and then passed it to the other person when they were finished. However, it is a new era in communication and it is recommended to let the other person talk without monopolizing the airtime. A talkative person that does not want questions asked also discounts Stephen Covey’s 5th principle to seek first to understand before being understood.
Talkative people please consider the other person when talking. Showing how start you are may not reflect how smart you really are if you do not know when to pause or cut it short for sake of the listener.
Is there a professional way to interject or listen with greater active listening when listening to an excessive communicator?