Are You a Talkaholic? Here’s Why Learning to STFU is Actually a Superpower

I am not one for idle chit-chat, but nevertheless, people with talkaholic tendencies surround me. Sometimes it feels like I am pulled into five unnecessary conversations just trying to leave my building.

While it might sound like something made up by introverts like me to lament the pain of being talked at against our will, talkaholism is real.

In 1993 researchers James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond created the Talkaholic Scale to help people measure whether or not their overly verbose behavior is sabotaging their success. A score of above 40 with two deviations signals someone is a true talkaholic.

Are you a talkaholic? Take the quiz!

“[The] possibly most serious characteristic of the talkaholic is that [they] will continue to communicate even though [they] know it is not in [their] own best interest,” research from McCroskey and Richmond states.

“Talkaholics talk themselves into trouble when all they would have to do to stay out of it would be to keep quiet.”

If you, like me, spend more time listening than talking you may notice that many people who talk too much actually say very little to contribute to a positive exchange of dialogue. These overtalkers will talk just to fill the silence.

Talkaholic STFU

No matter how ridiculous or inappropriate their statements may be, they just can’t stop themselves (unprompted) from oversharing.

These are the people I close the elevator door on and say, “So sorry, I’m in a hurry but I’ll send it back up,” so I don’t have to absorb whatever unnecessary thing an overtalker won’t be able to resist telling me as soon as we are trapped alone together in the slowest elevator in the world.

Sometimes I take the stairs (three flights) while carrying my 30lb arthritic, elderly dog in order to avoid overtalkers.

I don’t mean to be rude, but there are days when I just don’t have it in me to hear about the size and texture of a suspicious skin tag attached to the abdomen of someone I barely know.

This behavior can be more than just annoying. In some instances, compulsive talking can cost people jobs, relationships, and more.

One such person is Dan Lyons, a writer on HBO’s Silicon Valley and author of Disrupted, Lab Rats and the forthcoming book STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World.


“To me, this is a personal problem. I’m an inveterate overtalker, and it has cost me dearly,” Lyons writes in Time magazine.

“The issue is not only that I talk too much; it’s that I have never been able to resist blurting out inappropriate things, and I can’t keep my opinions to myself.”

In fact, his urge to talk was so strong even when he’d be better off staying silent that Lyons scored a 50 on the Talkaholic Scale.

“Once, when I put my foot in my mouth at work, I lost my job and the promise of millions of dollars. Worse, my lack of conversational impulse control led to a separation from my wife, and nearly cost me my marriage,” Lyons continues.

“It was then, living alone in a rented house, away from my wife and kids, that I conducted what members of Alcoholics Anonymous call a ‘searching and fearless moral inventory’ of myself, and acknowledged that in ways big and small, overtalking was interfering with my life. This sent me on a search to find the answers to two questions: Why are some people compulsive talkers? And how can we fix it?”

Radical Candor author and co-founder Kim Scott (a self-described chronic interrupter) recently had a conversation with Dan Lyons on LinkedIn Live about how to stop talking too much, the pervasive culture of manterrupting and hepeating at work, and why neither of them would survive a silent retreat.

Watch the conversation to learn why we’d all be better off if some overtalkers learned the value of STFU.





Resources to help you learn to be a better listener:
Are You a Quiet or Loud Listener? Listening Lessons from Apple >>
How Do You Get Stuff Done Without Telling People What to Do? Talk Less, Listen More >>
Tools to measure how much time you spend talking in meetings >>


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A professional writer, editor, storyteller and content strategist with more than 15 years of experience, Brandi Neal is the director of content creation and marketing and the podcast producer for Radical Candor. Some of the stranger things she has done include walking on fire (twice), hiking to the top of an active volcano in the middle of the night, hanging from the wing of an airplane (and letting go) and participating in an impala dung-spitting contest, which is just as gross as it sounds. In a movie of her life, she wants to be played by Stana Katic.