Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shut the Front Door, or Your Mouth--Whichever's Closest

Dear Eve,

How do I tell my friend she talks too much?  It's driving me crazy!  I truly love her and she doesn't have any other annoying habits but I'm not the only one that starts looking for the door whenever she opens her mouth.

I don't want to offend her, but I also don't want to have to duck tape her mouth.  I'm also afraid of it hurting our friendship by criticizing her and then maybe we won't be friends?  Help!

Dear Friend,

Oh, how I feel for you!  I have a very good friend who could talk the legs off a chair.  Thank goodness she's aware of this tendency and we can all tease her about it, or beg her to shut up, when it gets bad.  It turns out that she has adult ADD and long-winded story-telling is a symptom. Perhaps your friend can't help it, though whether or not she can won't save your ears or your sanity.

Begin by talking yourself off the ledge.  Don't lend this the gravitas that it doesn't merit.  It's a sticky situation for sure but you shouldn't let it get to the "OMG!  We're gonna break up if I criticize her!" stage.  In the scheme of things, it's not a big deal.  Now, because this is a situation of perception I'd recommend you approach it indirectly.  If you met the problem head on and said "Friend, you talk so much sometimes my ears bleed afterward" she might want examples or remind you that it's your perception, and that no one else has ever said that to her.  She would be right.  Instead, redirect your conversation when she goes on a tangent.  Interrupt her, often if necessary, and ask her pointed questions about the original topic you were discussing.  Make the effort to take control of your conversations by talking more, a lot more if need be.  When you do that, eventually, your dynamic will change.  Of course that won't affect other people ice-picking their own ears whenever she opens her mouth, but you can't make that your concern.

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