Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:28 (King James Version)
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain
Both the Bible verse and the Twain quote above clearly indicate that sometimes it is better to just keep quiet. So this begs the question, why do some people seem to find it impossible to remain silent? Why do they talk incessantly whether or not people are actually listening? Why do others talk for the sake of talking, contributing nothing of worth to the conversation? What motivates these blabbermouths? Whatever the reason for their non-stop chatter, I find it extremely irritating and downright rude and obnoxious at times.
We all know a gossip or two. They seem to have the scoop on everyone else’s lives. They know who’s dating who. They know whose teenage daughter is pregnant. They know who was just fired for surfing porn sites at work. The know who’s husband was seen at a local hot spot with an as yet unidentified other woman. I wonder where they find the time to dig up all this dirt. Moreover, I wonder why they think that everyone else wants to know about it. Quite frankly, I have enough going on in my own life to worry about.
I think that the gossip has too much time on his/her hands. The time would be better spent dealing with their own lives which, more often than not, are a mess as well. Perhaps this is the reason they spend so much time dwelling on the drama in other folks’ lives. It keeps them from dealing with their own problems, and makes them feel just a little bit better about the fact that they have them (problems).
The commentator is one who wants to give you the blow by blow replay of every movie, TV show, sporting event, etc. while it is yet in progress. Typical exchanges with the commentator might go like this:
Commentator: Ooh, he punched that guy right in the face!
Me: Uh, yes. I saw that.
Commentator: Did you see that play? That was almost a touchdown!
Me: Yes, I did see it. I am watching the same game as you are.
Commentator: Why did she do that? Where is she going now?
Me: I don’t know. Let’s watch the rest of the movie and find out, shall we?
The worst thing about getting caught up in these exchanges is that you often miss what happens next because you are busy rehashing what already occurred. This can be quite infuriating if you are at the theater watching a movie you paid good money to see. Now you are forced to come back next weekend (ALONE) so that you can find out what the movie was about.
The rambler is the person who continues talking long after the needed information has been obtained or the issue has been resolved. He insists on reiterating what has already been said. He continues to expound when no further information is required. Often, he veers off into another subject completely; generally one you have no interest in. A tip for the rambler: When someone says, “Got it” or “I understand” or even “Okay”, you have made your point and there is no need to continue barreling down your present path. Put on the brakes, please!
The Nervous Talker
There are some people who cannot tolerate silence. It makes them ill-at-ease for some reason. I, myself, prefer silence to idle chatter. Apparently, not everyone shares my view on this matter. There are those who would rather talk about practically anything than to sit in silence for even 30 seconds. Are they afraid to be left to their own thoughts? Do they think at all? Are they overcompensating for what would otherwise be shyness? Whatever the reason, their victims are subjected to a barrage of mindless prattle and, often, way too much personal information about the speaker.
The nervous talker is, I think, a close cousin to the Rambler. In either case, one cannot have a conversation with this person. For one, you cannot get a word in. Even if you do manage to speak a sentence or two, you will never receive an appropriate response because the other person is way too busy talking to listen to what you are saying.
The know-it-all is, in my opinion, the worst offender of them all. In a vain attempt to impress the crowd with his/her vast knowledge on the subject, the know-it all must elaborate on each and every statement made by another. Often tossing in snippets of information they have heard (or overheard) elsewhere, they are known to misquote others and misstate the facts. This doesn’t dissuade them, however. They must have the last say and be the final authority on every topic of discussion. The know-it-all is also known (at least to me) as Master of the Obvious, tossing in tons of widely accepted information as if he/she were the first to come up with it.
I believe this behavior to be a coping mechanism for those tossed into a social circle of people who may be more highly educated, well-read, well traveled or hold a more prestigious job. This is the know-it-all’s way of saying “I’m just as good as you”. But, if the truth be told, most people don’t really care how much you know (or think you know). They just care if you are a decent individual who is fun to hang out with.
If someone you know fits into any of these categories, try an experiment the next time you have a conversation with them. When you can get a word in, ask them if they have ever tried taking a long, deep breath and speaking as they let the breath out. You’ll find that because they have actually THINK about what they will say with that breath, they won’t be able to come up with anything. Hopefully, when they have tried and failed a few times, they will come to recognize that they are mindlessly chattering and make a conscious effort to stop. Even if they don’t, you will at least have gained a few moments of precious silence.