At first they may appear as perfect friends — open, outgoing, willing to share. Because they are so open to conversation, it might be easier to get to know them and become close with them. Their willingness to discuss their own life suggests that, hopefully, you will have someone to listen to you as long as they are in your life. In addition, they could have many other positive qualities, such as being funny and enthusiastic.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as expected, and soon enough you realize you befriended someone who is isn’t particularly sensitive to your needs. Some call this type of people narcissists; we simply call them people who talk too much about themselves or “radio” friends. The reason for that is that while narcissism became a popular term, it may mean different things to different people. It could be someone with narcissistic personality disorder or simply someone with narcissistic tendencies. Your radio friends may or may not be narcissists. In fact, they could have very low self-esteem and still talk too much about themselves and their problems. Narcissism and excessive talking are not necessarily related.
The type of people we are talking about are only interested in a conversation if it’s about them or something that is related to them. They are utterly uninterested in the listener, and even if they ask any questions, it comes across as superficial politeness, especially that they rarely even wait for an answer or take time to listen until the end. If a conversation drifts toward a different topic, they will find a way to interrupt you and redirect the limelight onto themselves again.
There are three ways to take the stage:
- Keep talking about yourself so that others don’t have a chance to say a word.
- Constantly interrupt others and refocus the conversation on what you want to talk about.
- Avoid any supporting statements when somebody else is talking so that they naturally stop.
Supporting statements are listener’s reactions, such as “Oh really”, “Oh I see”, “I feel your pain”, “What are you going to do now?” These statements are an important part of being a good listener and a good friend. They are the way to show that you are present, available and focused on the person you are with. However, if the listener completely avoids these, anyone who has even a little amount of social sensitivity will stop talking because it feels awkward. People who talk too much often avoid showing any reactions or asking any questions so that you stop talking sooner and they can take the stage again.
There are many reasons why people may behave this way and narcissism is only one of them. Other possible reasons include:
- need for attention,
- need to validate their feelings,
- desire to fill the silence,
- lack of social sensitivity,
- lack of social skills.
At times they may realize something’s wrong, but talking feels so good to them, they simply can’t bring themselves to stop.
Attempting to explain them their mistake may or may not end your friendship but definitely won’t get them interested in listening more. Being a friend of someone who talks excessively about themselves, you have two choices:
- Walk away, and that means to completely give up on your friend and his or her opinion of you.
- Continue listening.
Because you really can’t change them and the only control you have is over yourself, it’s good to ask yourself why you are in this relationship to begin with. Are you too lonely? Are you in a situation where it’s hard to find new friends? Are you passive about meeting new people and afraid to stay alone if you don’t listen? These are good questions to ponder as they reveal important truths about you.
Ideally, friends should allow others talk about half of the time. Being genuinely interested in your friends and being supportive is expressed by asking questions and reacting to what they have to say. It is also about being forgiving when your friend gets carried away and talks a little too much at times.
To ensure that both parties enjoy the conversation, it’s wise to choose topics of common interest, which usually excludes anything related to your daily affairs or anything personal. In the beginning of the relationship, when you don’t know much about your new friend, it’s good to ask open-ended questions, such as “Do you like sports?”, “Do you like to read?”, “What type of books do you like?” and so on. This type of questions helps find a common ground and figure out topics for future conversations.
If your friend is not only talking too much but is also being very negative, you might be interested in this article.
Image by @osaba via Freepik