My wife, Muri and I, went to the movies last Saturday night. The film we saw was The Big Short, the semi-documentary about the mortgage lending collapse of 2008. Shortly after we selected our usual aisle seats, three women settled into the row behind us, leaving open seats for their husbands who showed up a few minutes later with popcorn. The ladies chattered loudly through the commercials passed of as pre-show entertainment and continued when the lights dimmed for the previews. I leaned over to Muri and whispered, I hope they stop talking when the movie starts. They didn’t. At dinner before the movie, a family had just settled in at the table next to us when a someone from a nearby table came over to say hello. She stood there at their table for 25 minutes and didn’t stop talking once, annoying everyone around her and getting in the way of the wait staff. The Yakkers were out in force.
Definitions.com defines a Yakker as one who yaks; a chatterbox or motormouth. (My high school composition teacher always said that using a dictionary definition to start an essay is unacceptable. Sorry Mr. Teirney. Besides, this is the second paragraph). I like conversation as much as the next guy but Yakkers have always driven me crazy. Years ago … when my cranky, opinionated side was too young to be a curmudgeon … I’d have shhh’d those women behind us at the theater. Ironically, after 23 years of 12-Step meetings in which we have our say piece then listen, Yakkers bug me even more … but those meetings have also taught me that sometimes the best thing to do is keep my &^%$$&$ shut. That makes Muri happier. It makes my Inner Curmudgeon miserable.
According to an article, 5 Steps for Dealing With People Who Talk Too Much, in Psychology Today, We all know … people who talk without listening, who seem to think that what they have to say is as fascinating to everyone else as it is to them, and who don’t seem to understand that listening is an important part of communicating and connecting to others. (But) many people are overwhelmed by their own feelings and push them away by talking to avoid the shared feelings that real communication can bring. So, maybe I should feel sorry for the ladies behind me a the movie or the motormouth in TGI Friday’s. Maybe I could lean over and say, According to psychologists, people who talk too much are hiding from their emotions. Perhaps you should try some therapy.
If you have to deal with Yakkers, 5 Steps for Dealing With People Who Talk Too Much offers five steps to help you communicate with them: (1) First, listen—but not for too long. As you are listening, try to formulate for yourself what this person is trying to communicate; (2) After listening for a little while and formulating what they are trying to communicate, ask them if they would mind terribly if you interrupt them; (3) When you interrupt, be ready to say something about what you hear them saying. Don’t go for a deep psychological explanation. Something simple and to the point, but if possible, something that reflects something positive about them; (4) Don’t stop with a comment about them. Add some experience of your own that will confirm that you understand what they’re experiencing. (5) Stop the conversation when it goes on too long.
Me? I’d suggest skipping (1) through (4) and jumping directly to (5). But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that my Inner Curmudgeon recommends: (7) saying, Would you please shut up? It’s a good thing he’s not in charge around here any more.