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15 Things Only Talkative People Would Understand

15 Things Only Talkative People Would Understand

You’ve probably seen those Peanuts cartoons involving Charlie Brown having a phone conversation with his grandmother, or a sales lady, in which the person on the other end of the line sounds like a trombone with a sock stuck inside it: “Whaa-whaa-whaa-whaa-whaa.”

And if you’ve ever been accused of talking too much, you’ve probably been mocked with that same voice.

Talkative people have a hard life. On the one hand, everyone’s always telling you to shut up. And on the other, you’re just expected to show up at every social event with a pocket full of acerbically witty conversation starters that would make Oscar Wilde swoon in admiration.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. Here are 15 things only those talkative people would understand.

1. You end a lot of your conversations with an apology

Your friends love you. You know they do, or they’d probably have all pooled their money together to have your tongue surgically removed, but that doesn’t stop you from going home from a coffee date with your best friend, cudgeling your brains to make sure you remembered to ask her if she got that job she’d interviewed for, or how her husband is.

Case-in-point: Last week, I texted a friend to ask if we could meet for ice cream; I was juggling three writing projects with the skill of an amateur plate-spinner, while trying to talk my parents through multiple health issues from 500 miles away, and my brain felt like over-cooked spaghetti.

After unceremoniously unloading on my friend, I looked up from my sadly empty ice cream cup and said, “I’m sorry. I just yammered at you for an hour.” The fact that I regularly render the same listening service to my friends, or the fact that I obviously needed an ear, didn’t stop me fearing that she’d probably wished I had laryngitis that day.

2. You can’t keep a secret

Well, actually, you can, but you make it a rule that anyone must inform you of your roll as secret keeper before entrusting you with classified information so that you remember to switch on the brain-to-mouth filter. Remember that episode of “The Big Bang Theory” when Penny made Sheldon swear he wouldn’t tell Leonard that she’d lied about finishing community college? If anyone forgets to activate the secret-keeping clause with you, it’s not going to end well.

I learned this lesson the hard way in high school when I entrusted one soul on the planet with the name of the boy I secretly wanted to go to the Senior Prom with and made her swear not to tell him. She didn’t, but one night while at the local coffee shop, she boldly asked me in front of the rest of our girlfriends whether or not I’d worked up the courage to ask him to the prom.

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“That’s classified information!” I hissed.

“What? I didn’t tell him. I swear I didn’t,” she protested.

“No,” I said, “but you just told everyone at this table, not to mention everyone else in earshot.”

Given the fact that half the student body usually congregated at this particular coffee shop on weekends, the information eventually reaching the boy in question was an inevitability.

3. You’re famous for maxing out your Twitter API limit on a five-minute firect message conversation

140 characters? Who are you kidding? And TweetLonger is your friend.

Recently I became rather enthusiastic in a debate with a friend about the merits of Benedict Cumberbatch versus Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes. and no sooner had my Twitter client run out of DMs than I received an email from the friend I’d been chatting with, containing the subject line “You need to stop breaking Twitter. Seriously.”

4. You sometimes catch yourself having structured conversations with your smartphone

I’m not actually sure why I do this. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m lonely and single, and talking to Siri simulates human contact. Or maybe the movie “Her” just had a more profound impact on me than I realized.

Whatever the reason, sometimes, instead of simply barking out, “Text Kate,” I ask, “Siri, can you text Kate?” I like to think she appreciates the courteous gesture.

5. You interrupt yourself

You know exactly what I’m talking about. The perfect example: So, I was running errands yesterday, and when I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, I got stuck behind a woman wearing a hat with so many feathers it looked like she had a giant bird perched on her head, and – wait, did I ever tell you about the time I ran over a bird with my car? That was awful, because I’m terrified of birds. I never told you why I’m terrified of birds, did I?

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Your friends must love cliffhangers, because they never complain, and they’re still dying to know what happened in that car-hits-bird scenario. You can’t help it. You’re the Energizer Bunny of storytelling.

6. You’re everyone’s favorite road trip buddy

And you always get shotgun because when the iPod has exhausted its selection and you’re stuck behind a Winnebago crawling at 20 MPH, whoever’s driving will thank you later for keeping them awake and single-handedly saving all of your lives.

My best friend used to bribe me with Starbucks: “If you keep me awake, I’ll buy you a caramel latte.”

Honestly, I don’t know why he bothered to bribe me with lattes and espresso brownies. I almost never need an excuse to open my mouth, though caffeine and chocolate are usually pretty good motivators.

7. Your own phone interrupts you at the most pivotal point in your latest tale when the person on the other end calls you back

You know exactly what I mean. The person you’re talking to hasn’t said a word in 20 minutes and you didn’t realize the call dropped. The most embarrassing part of the conversation is usually the point at which you attempt to resume the story.

“So, where did I leave off?” You ask. “Did I lose you before I got to the part where he proposed?”

“Wait, you’re engaged?” The other person cries incredulously.

“You missed that? But that was like ten minutes ago.”

“Yeah, that’s how much you talk.”

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8. You’re the first person everyone expects to fill a lull in the conversation, and you’re always willing to rise to the challenge

When the well of words has run dry, you’ll dust off an amusing anecdote about the time you had too many margaritas and managed to lock yourself out of a bathroom that didn’t actually lock. It might also be the perfect moment to resume that car-meets-bird story where you left off last year.

All too often, your own life debacles form the subject of these stories, but you’ve learned to accept it with good grace. No sacrifice is too great to keep the conversation flowing.

9. Your friends and family regularly tell you to consider a career in public speaking

You talk so much anyway, you might as well get paid for it, and you’re always the first one everyone volunteers for a speech, or a toast, or (unfortunately for you) a eulogy. Your family probably even has a running joke that when you die, there’ll be no one to speak at your service, because you’re the designated family eulogist.

10. You have a serious case of voicemail anxiety

What do you mean, you only have up to three minutes? So you either end the call, or wind up doing your best impression of Six from the 90s sitcom “Blossom” that no one can understand. You should have just texted.

Still, your friends are always amazed when you leave them messages and manage to squeeze in the news about your new job, a story about your trip to the park with your golden retriever, and the latest update on your grandmother’s recovery from open-heart surgery, all without seeming to take a breath.

11. Your text-messages get cut off

Sometimes when you text people, they regularly respond with messages along the lines of “I only got the first half of that.”

This is why you’re famous for texting friends to ask if you can call them, because it’s easier than giving them text anxiety while they stare at that maddeningly cryptic “buddy is typing” bubble, waiting for you to finish your latest novel.

Recently I texted a friend with the intention of giving her my flight information for my return home from a family trip, but the message evolved into a saga about everything that had occurred over the course of the past three weeks.

Finally, when I’d finished, my friend texted back to ask, “I think I might have missed part of your message. When does your flight get in?” Oops.

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12. You talk too much, even for your smartphone’s attention span

For someone who’s supposedly always at my service, Siri can be irritatingly inattentive sometimes. While I generally don’t rely on voice dictation for written communication, because I find Siri’s ability to insert proper punctuation spotty at best, sometimes when I’m feeling particularly chatty, I’ll ask her to send a text for me, thinking it’ll just be quicker and spare my carpal tunnel syndrome.

The number of time’s she’s timed out on me and said, “Sorry, I didn’t catch that” has made me question whether or not I really do talk too much.

13. You’re the king or queen of conversational icebreakers

Your natural loquaciousness brings people together. I once based an eight-month relationship with a guy on his answer to my question, “If you could be stuck in an elevator with anyone, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?”

Any man who replies, “Yoda, because he could just teach me to use The Force to get us out” is a man after my own heart.

And nothing chips away at the ice of an awkward introduction better than an arbitrary question like “Penguins – for or against?”

Whether people see this as an invitation to debate where penguins rank on the scale of animal cuteness or the merits of “Penguins of Madagascar” as a film, everyone’s been spared the anxiety of discussing the weather or the most recent book they’ve read. You’re welcome.

14. You’re actually an excellent listener

It sounds counter intuitive, but in my experience, talkative people actually absorb most of what’s going on around them, because they’re always the ones who have to tell everyone else what the teacher, or flight attendant, or tour guide just said.

Among my family and friends, this responsibility generally falls on my shoulders. I don’t know why, but everyone assumes that I’ve been able to recall the fancy French-sounding specials the restaurant server has just rattled off over my grumbling stomach while nobody was paying attention an that i’m more than happy to repeat dishes I can barely pronounce.

The theory is that I’ll be talking anyway, so I might as well make myself useful or keep my breath to cool my porridge.

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15. You always know the right thing to say

99 times out of 100, your friends are telling you to shut up (albeit affectionately), but when they need advice about their latest relationship problems, need someone to talk them through anxiety attacks, or just want to hear a friendly voice on a bad day, you’re always ready with words of wisdom or witty banter, and this is probably why everyone puts up with your prattle in the first place.

Featured photo credit: Victorian Ladies Talking by OpenClips via pixabay.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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