In the Symptom Spotlight series, we focus on different ADHD traits. This week: excessive talking.
Are you known for telling stories at a hundred-miles-an-hour? Can you talk the hind legs off a donkey?
Excessive talking is a symptom commonly associated with ADHD. We can admittedly be prone to a touch of verbal diarrhoea, or monopolise conversations. I generally live my life at 100mph, and this extends to my talking too – I’m very thankful that my family and friends are so patient!
I know I talk a lot, and it makes me feel bad. It’s usually not considered to be socially acceptable, but the truth is that I’m simply talking at the same speed as I think. ADHD symptoms largely originate from the impulsivity and hyperactivity caused by the disorder. This means it’s a challenge for us to stop and think sometimes. We just get so caught up in what we’re saying that we don’t realise we’re boring people to tears, or annoying them.
Listening to a long monologue can be difficult for the person we’re talking to, but it’s also hard for the person with ADHD. Most of us have experienced rejection and social difficulties at some point, often as a result of this behaviour.
I have mixed feelings about the label of excessive talking.
Much like it might not be natural for you to talk any faster, it doesn’t feel natural for us to talk any slower. I also very much think and problem-solve aloud, and this makes up the bulk of my talking. Sometimes I can’t just organise my thoughts inside my head.
Yes, it is very important that we are aware of other’s needs and not dominate every conversation. However, I also don’t think we should have to suppress our natural behaviour to make others more comfortable. It’s a balancing act.
To be honest, I’m not sure I’m the best person to give any advice on this topic, because my chattiness, and the problems that result socially, still really affect my self-confidence in some situations. Although I will try and conform to what is expected of me whenever I can, especially with people who don’t know my idiosyncracies very well yet, it feels like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. It doesn’t feel like me.
I mask my ADHD characteristics a lot, and when it comes to my frequent verbal spiels, I’m conflicted about what to do. Do I beat myself up for annoying others, and stay as quiet as I can? Or continue to aim for a balance, but not apologise for being who I am?
I oscillate between these two extremes quite frequently.
I’ve tried some strategies to minimise the amount of airtime I take up.
How I avoid “excessive” talking
Notes. If I’m going into a meeting, I write some bullet points beforehand of what I need to cover. I then try not to stray from that “agenda” unless it’s absolutely essential.
Ask questions. I try to ask the other person a question after every point I make, to take the mic away from me. This avoids the conversation becoming too one-sided.
Focus on talking slower. I mostly do this during presentations or verbal reports in meetings. It makes what I’m saying more comfortable for the listener. I also usually get bored, lose my train of thought, so I finish what I’m saying much earlier!
Is it really excessive?
What do you think? Do you embrace your talkativeness, or do you try and suppress it? I personally think it’s really important that we don’t shame ourselves for whatever we choose to do – but I’m still working on that.
Additude also have a good article with some tips you could try, read it here.
Are you interested in learning more about the symptoms of ADHD? Our Symptom Spotlight series is a great place to start!