Keys for Relating to Non-Stop Talkers
Check Wiring Before Discarding
The resident clinician at http://www.bencouraged.net/ challenges readers to be quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower to get angry when dealing with folk who talk all the time. McNair suggests mixing compassion with wisdom when we deal with people whose preferred learning style is 'thru the ears'.
3 Keys for Relating to Non-Stop Talkers
Whether they are 4 or 84, many genuinely wonderful people talk non-stop. Admittedly, non-stop talkers irritated me for a long time until I discovered what they were really up to. There are 2 kinds of non-stop talkers. The first I'll simply mention and promise to deal with in future writes and the second I'll focus on in this article. The first non-stop talker is called the controller. This person desires to dominate every conversation with a ‘my fish is bigger than yours' story or he or she will manufacture responses to questions, tell crude jokes or say just about anything to be heard. The root of this person's malady is deep and worthy of an article all its own. Check back later for that hot topic. For now, let's deal with non-stop talker #2 who I will affectionately refer to as Mr. or Mrs. Audio. One evening a close friend of mine who was going through marital difficulties invited me over to give her some wise advice. I arrived, we got comfortable, giggled a little and she began to share the specifics of her complaint. She talked and talked and talked for about 3 hours or so. My contribution to the conversation was a few scattered non-verbal "un hunh's and umh umh umh's ". When she finished she had tears in her eyes, she hugged me and thanked me over and over again. She said, "Thank you and thank God for you...I feel sooooooo much better."
The amazing thing was that when I coupled the events of that night with my knowledge of learning styles and specifically audio or auditory learners, a light clicked on in my head. Audio learners take in information thru their ear gates. If they consider themselves a reliable source of information, they will talk non-stop until they arrive at the solution to their own problem. As soon as they hear the solution they are usually done talking. For those of us who are connected to a Mr. or Mrs. Audio, it helps to know that the audio wiring works best when there is a live person in the room or on the telephone. While you may feel like you're being ignored or that you can't get a word in edgewise, know that your being there does make a difference.
Three keys will help you maintain fellowship or a good working relationship with Mr. or Mrs. Audio. First, be compassionate. How often do you get the opportunity to significantly contribute to someone's life by simply lending them your ear? Where children are concerned, you're actually validating their thinking process and making them feel important. Who knows the impact that could have on their future. At the other end of the age spectrum, many elderly people, especially those who are homebound, benefit greatly from a compassionate ear. One of the most influential seasons of my life was the 9 years I spent in the company of a group of East Palo Alto, California seniors I nicknamed the "Been There Done That Squad". Many of these seniors were over 80 years old and I was the literacy instructor one day a week. Some weeks I only got a word in occasionally, but I knew they needed the room to express themselves. They referred to that course as the highlight of their week. I witnessed many occasions when they would surface a complaint and keep talking until they drew out the solution from their own personal wells. James 1:16 in the Bible was my constant word of wisdom and has become one of the cornerstones of my teaching on communications. James wrote, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry". Wise advice I'd say.
The second key for dealing with Mr. or Mrs. Audio is to make a joyful noise. A joyful noise is the appropriate non-verbal listening sound for any given situation. Being there and zoning Mr. or Mrs. Audio out does not count. We have to listen so intently that our natural bodies and voices will evoke sounds that Mr. or Mrs. Audio will interpret as encouragement and consolation. When James spoke of being quick to listen, he meant being alive to listening. When we are alive to listening we take the time to catch the feel and flavor of what is being said. I liken this kind of listening to the experience of eating my good friend Pastor Jean's scrumptious fresh out the oven peach cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I don't just taste it; I savor every bite and I literally feel the light crust layers melt in my mouth as the peaches and cream caress my palate and then go their separate ways. When we are alive to listening, we catch the words, the tones, the nuances as well as the heart of the message. We are full of care about how we respond and do so joyfully. I've worked with a lot of folk over the years and I am convinced that a listening ear is one of the greatest gifts we can give.
The third and final key for effectively relating to Mr. or Mrs. Audio is to endure wisely. Endure means to bear up with patient tolerance. . Wisdom is the God-given insight on the matter and the God pleasing action that follows. We are kind and gentler people for enduring the auditory folk in our lives, but we have to be wise about how much time we give them and how often. We also have to speak the truth in love when they say things like "Am I talking too much? Or I need to shut up, don't I?" We can answer yes without maiming them. We can reassure them that we may not have the time to listen now, but the next time they can be assured our undivided attention. Secondary school statistics number this group of learners as about 10% of the population. That means that one in every 10 persons is a Mr. or Mrs. Audio. So, what are you going to do?
I am ever so grateful for the ones who've come my way and especially grateful for one non-stop talker in particular who refused to leave when I would not let her in my house one historic Monday night about 17 years ago. Instead she stood on my front porch and talked for hours until I heard and responded to the call of God on my life. But that's another story and you can find out all the juicy details at www.bencouraged.net.