He Won’t Stop Talking!

What to do when someone is a chatterbox? First…The Work.

That person won’t stop talking.

A person at the Breitenbush retreat last night shared her worksheet on someone in her life who went on and on, and she could never get a word in edgewise.

Can you relate?

Put yourself in that situation where you thought someone went on too long.

Good lord. How can I get away from them?

I’ve looked at my watch. I’ve stopped smiling. I’ve stopped sharing much of anything about myself. I’m not asking questions anymore.


Aren’t they going to catch the drift, take a hint, get a clue?

Nope. Still talking.

Yaketty yaketty yak.

Most people have had this thought at least once or twice about someone else in their lives.

But one day, I realized….gosh….

….I’ve had this thought countless times. I’ve been in this situation so many times its ridiculous.

With a ton of different people. Neighbor, co-worker, friend, boss, partner.

Hmmmm. I notice one common denominator.


Maybe there’s something going on here I could look at more deeply….

….you think?

So I ask myself, why is this person going on and on in this particular way so irritating?

Because they’re skipping around on every topic known to mankind. None of these words mean much of anything. What they’re saying seems like noise. I just start wanting to get away. They’re complaining. I’ve heard it before. They’re bragging.

And I feel trapped, like I’ll hurt their feelings unless I excuse myself politely (if they’d let me get a word in). I can’t figure out how to be polite AND excuse myself at the same time.

Good opportunity for The Work.

It’s impolite to interrupt or to decline conversation.

Is it true?


I mean, if someone suddenly got up and left me when I was in the middle of a sentence I’d feel hurt. It would feel pretty weird. I’d wonder what I said.

But can I absolutely know that this is true that it’s impolite to interrupt or decline conversation? Can I absolutely know this person’s talking is so torturous in the first place?


How do I react when I believe….

….I can’t stand this person talking so much, AND….

….don’t interrupt, listen to others politely with a nice expression on your face, don’t say what you really feel?What happens when I believe these concepts like they are the absolute truth?

I stand quietly while people are talking, I look like I’m listening, and I “wait” until it’s over. I don’t really listen. I don’t really connect with this person. I feel separate. I’m scared to speak up. I care about what they think of me. I need to make sure I don’t hurt their feelings. I’m trapped, a victim of this moment.

Who would I be without these beliefs that there’s a “right” way to converse with people and a “wrong” way, and I can’t interrupt or disagree, or leave?


This is soooo different than the way I’ve always thought I should be, it’s hard to imagine who I would be without these rules for relating to other people.

I might interrupt. I might listen more closely without this urge to escape.

I would also feel connected. I’d tell the truth. I’d say something like the following: I feel anxious to say this out loud to you but I’m having a hard time really connecting with what you’re saying.

Or maybe….tell me more about what that was like for you.

Or maybe….I’d be far more curious about this funny moment of half-listening on my part.

Or, I might even simply move away from that person and head towards what I feel more enlivened by, in that moment, without guilt or embarrassment.

Turning the thought around: it is NOT impolite to interrupt, or to decline conversation. It’s impolite NOT to interrupt. It’s impolite to STAY in the conversation, especially if I’m not interested. I also CAN stand this person talking so much. I can listen far more closely. I wonder what or why they really want to communicate?

Wow, what if it was actually rude, dishonest, dismissive to fake like I’m listening?

What if it was not polite and respectful to avoid telling the truth?


You mean….say what I really think or feel to this person? Ask them questions? Listen? Engage honestly?


And it doesn’t have to be with any resentment or anger or the reverse kind of energy from your original behavior of hiding, faking or holding back.

In other words, you don’t need to be super blunt, mean, attacking or critical, which is just another form of the same this-is-wrong orientation.

What if it was just right that this person was talking on and on, to give you a chance to speak up….

….or to listen closely….

….with excitement and clarity for you, for them?

“Your understanding of another person is limited by what you think you already know. So when you just listen, the person you meet won’t match your preconception. The exciting thing is that you usually meet someone much wiser and kinder than you expected. You may also lose track of your ideas about who YOU are. You become a true listener, an open and genuinely interested person. Maybe you too will be wiser and kinder than you thought you were.” ~ Byron Katie 

That person should be talking right now.

I should be listening. And speaking honestly.

Noticing how wisdom and kindness can come forward through this talking. No fears about what should or shouldn’t be done.

Until we don’t talk. And that’s OK too.

Much love,

2 Replies to “He Won’t Stop Talking!”

  1. Thank you, and such a great and simple action to take “may I interrupt?” I love that. This is definitely not about withholding some kind of clear communication like you’re mentioning. I loved interrupting my co-worker I speak about here AFTER I did The Work to look at my own judgments and intense anger. Who was I really angry at? I had opposing thoughts about not interrupting (being rude) or needing to listen to people and not wanting to. Once I questioned my beliefs about her, I could so much more easily have clear communication with her, because it was clearer within myself. Thanks for sharing your example here of working with someone who is talking, very much appreciate it.–Best, Grace

  2. I was confused reading this.

    When people talk on and on without a pause, I say, “Excuse me, may I interrupt?” This works and is simpler than the analysis above.

    I really wonder what is going on in the minds of people who talk non-stop. It is hard not to feel angry and judgmental at them, which I think is what you are trying to address.

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