You’ve probably experienced it. The person to whom you’re speaking won’t stop talking. They drone on and on and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Perhaps you’ve been in a meeting in which one person dominates the conversation and no one else can express their opinion. It’s called “overtalking.” My dad used to use a disgusting, yet descriptive, phrase for overtalkers. He said they had, “diarrhea of the mouth.” Yuck, but we all understand what he meant by that.
The Bible addresses the issue of overtalking. Listen to Proverbs 10:19, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable” (NASV). Another version renders it, “In a multitude of words, sin is not lacking” (NKJV). Solomon, a wise king, wrote, “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-NASV).
So why do people overtalk? I’ve thought about this for a while and have come up with five reasons why:
1. Habit. Some people just have a habit of using too many words and talking too much. When they are done, you scratch your head and ask yourself, “What did they say?” They used so many words you have no idea. It’s not that they have a hidden motive, but it’s become a habit which no one has brought to their attention or, if someone has, it’s been ignored.
2. A lot to say. Some have a lot to say and fear that if they don’t say all of it at once they’ll forget or someone will interrupt them and they won’t get across their point. These folks are not guilty of overtalking all the time just occasionally.
3. Control. For some overtalking is a subconscious way of controlling the conversation and taking it in the direction they want to go. Controllers are notorious overtalkers. Why? Losing control makes them feel insecure and, because that’s an uncomfortable feeling, they control through words.
4. Nervousness. Some folks are anxious or nervous and that nervousness is expressed in non-stop talking. Overtalking calms them and makes them feel less fearful or threatened by the situation.
5. A mental disorder. Some people who overtalk are having a manic episode. This is classified as a mood disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “Manic speech is typically pressured, loud, rapid, and difficult to interrupt. Those affected may “talk nonstop, sometimes for hours on end and without regard for others’ wishes to communicate” (DSM IV, p. 328-332).
I like King Solomon’s counsel, “God is in heaven . . . let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). God sees and hears everything so long prayers like long speeches are unnecessary and come across as irritating and pompous. Be brief. Be concise. Be succinct. Don’t go on and on.
After all . . .
The mind can only absorb as much as the rear can endure (author unknown),