What Do You Do When Somebody Talks Too Much?

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”
Robert Frost

Have you ever been around somebody who just eats up all of the oxygen in the room with their incessant chatter? Have you ever been that person? Let’s assume for the “sake of talking” that the person is not you but that it is someone else burning up their lips and gums and damaging your eardrums and vestibulocochlear nerves. What do you do? Below are five possible alternatives for finding relief:

1. Don’t listen. Imagine yourself on a sailboat on a beautiful sunny day in your 20 year old lotioned and tan body (even if you are 50…well, especially if you are 50). All the while, keep moving your head slightly and paying just enough attention to not nod yes when they are complaining about their own mother or their excess weight etc.

2. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. This is good for only the first exit because after that they might start a rumor about your bladder. For the second and third exits, you can use excuses such as, checking the laundry, sprinklers or locked doors. If a fourth exit is required, feign fatigue and reschedule the visit.

3. Inquire about the mole on their arm and suggest that they need to get it checked. If you can’t see one then just assume they have one on their back. If necessary, share the story of your older relative that had a bad experience with a mole. It has to be just subtle enough to not create a whole new conversation while allowing a seed to be planted of personal survivability and worry.

4. “Did you hear that?” always stops the conversation and you achieve a moment of silence, which can help you gain energy for the next chattering onslaught. If you stand and turn around and look, it helps your charade. Ask one more time, “did you hear that?” When they answer “no”, you can ask them to stay quiet for a few more precious seconds and then explain that it must have been the rats that sometimes appear in your house. Add that one time one of them stuck their head out from under the very same couch your friend is sitting in. Assure them that they need not worry because you recently bought a pet snake and allowed it to roam through the house in the daytime and that it had eaten most of the rats. Add a little shrug and laugh and say “now where were we?”

5. As a last resort, you might try to engage the other person in conversation but direct it in a way that has a terminal point…eg… I don’t like funerals…or… my warts have been bothering me…do you mind rubbing them because I can’t reach them?…or… did you hear that continuous talking causes gout?

If none of these ploys work, then hand them your grandbaby and some carrots. He will know what to do. Everyone will be happy…well, what is your friend going to do…give you the baby back? Of course not….that would get all of the neighbors talking!  Ahhh…peace at last!


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