How to Stop Chatting and Shut Hell

You have problems, I have advice. This tip does not contain powdered sugar – in fact, it does not contain sugar and can even be slightly bitter. Welcome to Tough Love .

This week we have someone who talks too much and wants to stop.

Mind you, I am not a therapist or any other healthcare professional, but just a guy who is willing to talk about it the way it is. I just want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn life. If for any reason you don’t like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here . So let’s get on with it.

Hi, Patrick,

I have control problems that are annoying: I talk too much. Silence makes me uneasy, so I mumble, mumble, mumble … I know when I’m doing this and mentally say, “Shut up, damn it!” But most of the time, I just can’t stop. I need tools to stop this.



Hello chatterbox :

You know, for the person who says they talk too much, you somehow manage to be one of the quickest in asking for advice. There is a feather for your cap. No, don’t tell people about your new feather. That’s good, but shut up and listen to me for a minute. You say that silence is troubling to you, but I assume you mean silence among other people .

To be honest, nobody likes the awkward silence. Your real problem, Babbs, because you say it’s a control problem, is that you don’t trust anyone else to say anything and refuse to listen. You are convinced that someone needs to lead the conversation, and you take control before someone else can grab hold of it. Thus, you fill the void with your own incoherent chatter. But it’s good that you decided to fix this, Babbs. Here’s what you do:

  • Practice without saying anything. This will be harder than it sounds. Join group conversations and do nothing but listen with your mouth closed. Write down in your mind what others are saying, not what you want to say. Answer the questions asked to you in one sentence and then listen again. Let the silence fall and see what happens.
  • Finally, you can go to the “traffic light rule”. You speak in green for about 20 seconds, in yellow for 40 seconds, and you have to stop, no matter what, on red, that is, 60 seconds of continuous chatting.
  • You can be in green and yellow for as long as you want, provided you don’t break the 50/50 Rule, which basically just says you should listen as much as you say – if not more.
  • Turn conversations into games. If you cannot get away from the conversation by making at least three notes in your mind of what they said, you will lose. No [insert treat here] for you!
  • Ask for help. If you let someone you trust know that you are trying to get better, they can help you stop before you even start .

Brevity is the soul of wit, Babbs, so don’t be a fool. When in doubt, drop the conversation when anxiety takes over. It will take time to get rid of bad habits, so be vigilant.

That’s all for this week, but I still have a lot of frank and honest advice. Tell me what is bothering you? Does work upset you? Are you having problems with a friend or colleague? Is your love life going through rough times? Do you just feel lost in life, as if you have no direction? Tell me, maybe I can help. I probably won’t make you feel warm and foggy inside, but sometimes you need tough love. Ask a question in the comments below or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page ( please include “TIP” in the subject line ). Or tweet me #ToughLove ! Also, DO NOT WRITE ME IF YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR INQUIRY TO OPEN . I don’t have time to answer everyone for fun. “Until next time, figure it out yourself.


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