Watch Your Mouth

Written on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 8:37 am by Ric
Filed under Lifestyle.

Communicating with others is a very important skill, not just in business, in our day to day lives too. We communicate in different ways: through writing, our body language, facial expressions, and of course, talking and conversing with others. This last topic, conversation, is what we’ll be tackling today.

Peter Murphy has a post called 5 Conversation Tips for Dealing with Awkward People up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise, and he raises a few bad conversational that habits many of us develop. We all do these things from time to time, and we also encounter people with these habits often – that’s why it’s good to know how to deal with them

1. Talking on and on

“Also known as a blabbermouth,” according to Peter, “these people tend to monopolize the conversation.” They won’t stop talking, and in some cases, may not even realize that nobody is listening.

Peter explains that some people tend to talk non-stop when they get nervous. He suggests trying to “make them feel at ease by showing interest in them and asking questions.” Maybe when they calm down a bit, they can stop talking and let others participate in the conversation.

2. All about me

“The goal for them,” Peter explains, “is to get the attention on them and allow them to speak.” They try to do this by injecting a personal opinion in the conversation, or empathizing with the person speaking. This is fine in small doses, but some take it too far, really trying to make the whole conversation all about them.

The key here is to play the role of a moderator in the discussion by paying them attention and allowing to “feel like they are a valued member of the conversation.” You may only need to do this once or twice, but if “they try to turn the conversation about them,” you may have to play it a bit tougher to keep the conversation on topic, or allow others to speak too.

3. Lectures

Peter describes this person better than I can: “This person always has an answer for any situation. They are most often known as a know it all. They seem to know everything on every topic. They also have a way of making their way the only way to do anything.”

The problem, as Peter says, is that the lecturer usually means well. This makes it more difficult to deal with them than with the other awkward conversationalists.

His advice: “listen and thank them for their advice, then change the subject.” If they persist, draw a line, telling them you want to do things your way, and that you’ve already heard their piece.

4. Not contributing

They stand there beside you, listening in on the conversation and rarely saying anything. “They may interject occasionally,” Peter says, “but usually with just a brief sentence or one word answer.” I personally don’t feel awkward around them, but some people do.

The silent types are usually shy, and need to be actively drawn into the conversation. Ask them questions, and ask them to expound on their answers. Just be careful though – sometimes, the silent type is just a blabbermouth waiting to happen.

5. Gossip

Peter makes it clear: “everyone has told a juicy piece of gossip at one point or another.” The problem is that gossip rarely amounts to any good, and is often full of lies, or at least errors.

Low self-esteem and a desire to “fit in” are common motivations for gossip. Gossips usually see their own lives as boring, and as such would rather talk about others. The trick is to ask them questions about their life. Find about their interests, or introduce other topics you can talk about.

Like I said at the beginning, we all do these things from time to time. Personally, I’m probably a bit of a wallflower myself, but anybody who knows me already knows that. I keep working on that though, and that’s one of the keys to becoming a better communicator, or better anything for that matter – work on your weaknesses.

What habits do you find yourself caught in often, and what do you do to try and improve that? Tell is in the comments.

Until our next conversation,


Image by: photostock /

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