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How to Tolerate People Who Talk Too Much

Updated on June 29, 2010

1 - Pretend you're asleep

The value of being able to feign unconsciousness if someone is talking your ear off should never be underestimated. Most (though, granted, not all) chronic over-talkers tend to stop when they think no one is listening to them. Pretending to be asleep is an easy way to ignore them without making them feel like you did it on purpose or having to explain why you're not listening: it speaks for itself.

If they try to wake you up, make a startled intake of breath and then apologize and say that you're just "so exhausted." Shortly afterwards, promptly fall back asleep, but make it gradual enough to be convincing. Falling back asleep is excusable and believable because you have already established the fact that you're exhausted.

2 - Talk over the person, and about something that doesn't interest them

Fight fire with fire. Be a chatterbox yourself and drown out anything they're saying with things that they don't know or care about, so they can't logically interject anything except "Uh-huh."

Completely reject any attempts of theirs to change the subject; change it right back.

In fact, be a little aggressive about it if they don't listen to you. Make unflinching eye contact and refuse to not be heard.

3 - Make an offensive or inappropriate joke that will breed an awkward silence

Hopefully that silence will last. Avoid all attempts by the chatterbox to make the situation comfortable again by saying something even more awkward or adding to the pre-existing awkwardness.

For example, if you know that the person who is talking too much is a feminist, make a chauvinistic joke.

Now, the joke will have to be extreme in its offensiveness, or it won't work. If it's a mid-level, slightly offensive joke or comment like, to go with our example, "Oh, women and their PMS," she'll just think you've been "brainwashed by society" into believing a stereotype about women, will give you the benefit of the doubt, and then proceed to talk your ear off about how what you said was wrong and offensive and not backed up by evidence, etc, etc, to infinity. In other words, you've made the situation worse by making what you said redeemable.

No, you need to make it clear by all accounts that you're too shameless to be forgiven or to be teachable.

For example, when it is a feminist we are encountering: "I think women subjected to ritualistic stoning deserve what they get."

You might get an initial "WHAT?" from your target (or any decent person, really), but afterwards it will just be awkward. Even if you append what you just said with "I'm just kidding. Har, har," a second later, it's too irredeemable. That's not even something to joke about, man.

Similarly, if the person you're dealing with has an embarrassing disease or has a close family member with some sort of embarrassing disease, make a joke about it.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: But, that's so mean! I don't want to hurt someone's feelings or make them feel bad! To that, I say: you want them to shut up or not? Getting someone to shut up sometimes means you have to be an asshole.

Photo by Laurence Facun
Photo by Laurence Facun

4 - Feign an emergency

Once they start on one of their long-winded ramblings to nowhere, scream suddenly and grab a body part, pretending that it hurts. (Which body part is up to you, but I do not recommend certain ones that might give the wrong message, like your crotch.)

Be dramatic, but try to explain it as a temporary ailment, and not something that needs medical intervention. "Ohhhh! It's my trick knee again!" works just fine, as well as "Owww! Christ, something fell in my eye!" or even "OH MY GOD, a papercut! Anything but that!"

This can also be used as a springboard to change the subject--you can talk about how much it hurts and have a good excuse to not be listening to them.

Photo by txd
Photo by txd

5 - Tell them to shut up

Short and sweet. If you want to be mean in a direct sort of way, and assume they're the kind who would obey such a request (if not, you may need to resort to number 3), then give it a go.

It works best if you interrupt them during a sentence. Or, actually, it's just more emotionally fulfilling. For example:

"That reminds me of the time I was in Canada and--"


"--and I was going hiking...wait, what? Did you just say something?"

"Yeah. Shut up."


"I said I told you to shut up."

Good luck with this one.

No matter what method you try, remember that your peace and quiet are at stake. Stop at nothing!


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Thank you for your information to help others with listening.

    I have severe ADHD which causes excessive talking. We are already embarrassed by this disorder. Many folks share that we could fix "it" if we wanted to.:0( Or we are selfish, or worse.

    Most "help" articles mention that this "bad habit" can be broken, if we would just do this or that.

    Only adding to the despair we feel that we are not good people, and it's really our fault. My sister and I are laughed at and joked at every family gathering (the entire night). I take medicine that does help me. She can not due to her heart health, so she really has it more than I. She is the sweetest person you would ever meet. It hurts to hear people say, while rolling their eyes, here she comes. (she is much older than me, and has an uncontrollable constant "grunting mumble" because of it too. She is only 56!! This is not a selfish habit, it's a disability in many people.

    I found your steps, to be polite and kind in helping people as much as they can do alone.

    I just wondered if you have considered, telling people, under reasons people talk excessively is ADD or ADHD?

    We also get to look forward to being those elderly that mummble gibberish and cannot stop. It is sad and hurts us to be made fun of.

    Thank you, Joy Palos

    Elaine Palos

  • gmwilliams profile image

    Grace Marguerite Williams 

    9 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

    Loved your hub! When a person talks too much, I just get up and leave. Plenty of times, I just cut them off rudely! As a last resort, I just yawn. No fanfare and no fuss.

  • valeriee profile image


    9 years ago

    or you could just say;

    i'm sorry, i have to go find a hole lined with poo to lie in, as i would rather do that than listen to you.

  • DjBryle profile image


    9 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

    ... I love pretending to be asleep... or I'd rather really sleep than spend time with them! lol! I love this hub! =)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    OMG! I might have to do No 5 before too long. A friend of mine has begun staying over 1 night a week to save on travel home and she's driving me crazy. She meets me at the door talking, and then doesn't stop as she follows me inside. She follows me around the house talking and even talks to me through the door while I'm in the bathroom. I got on my treadmill at one stage to do my running routine and she stood beside the treadmill talking while I was running! I'm beginning to dread the night she comes over but I don't know how to tell her politely that she needs to back off a bit and just give me some space in my own home. I can see myself yelling "Shut up!" one day, and then regretting it for the rest of the week!

  • Deborah Demander profile image

    Deborah Demander Reno 

    9 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

    I talk too much. I don't know if these would work on me.... hmmm...


  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 

    9 years ago from Northern, California

    I love the pretend to be asleep! I found this helpful and hilarious! Hey, are you awake?... ;`)


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