Have you ever been sitting on a subway or plane and felt annoyed because the person next to you keeps trying to chat and chat and chat?
One thing we know about human nature is that there are introverts and extroverts in this world, and everyone falls somewhere on that continuum. Some people seem to be programmed to talk and engage, while others are genetically programmed the opposite way.
But what makes some people less talkative than others? Is it as simple as genetics? I don’t think so.
Wives complain about their husbands’ one-word responses; my clients often tell me that they feel a deep loneliness, even when they are surrounded by people. I’ve heard many stories about lovely folks standing alone at parties, feeling awkward, and waiting until enough time passed so that they could go home.
Are all of these people introverts? Maybe, but many of them had another good reason to be in their predicaments. Unbeknownst to them, they had built a wall between themselves and everyone else. A wall that acted as a hurdle for the words that they could and should speak. A wall that took their voice, and bounced it right back at them. A wall that whispered,
That’s not important enough to say
Talking is annoying
Talking is useless
You have nothing to offer in this conversation
Sadly, all of these people are being deprived of one of nature’s most valuable tools: communication, and all of the wonderful benefits that come with it.
5 Reasons You Should Talk More
- Boost your mood: Imagine running errands, feeling hurried. Anxiously waiting in line at the pharmacy, the woman standing behind you says, “Excuse me can I ask you a question? Where did you get those shoes? My husband’s been looking for some just like that and can’t find them anywhere.” You have a brief discussion in which you make a tiny joke and she laughs. Studies show that these types of small, meaningless encounters boost your mood. A connecting moment with another human being releases a neurotransmitter in your brain called oxytocin. This chemical has been shown by research to have an anti-anxiety effect. It gives you a feeling of well-being, and may increase human empathy. It’s not just you; the woman you just spoke with will have a similar boost in mood.
- Think things through: Talking with a stranger at the pharmacy is one thing. Talking with a trusted person you are close with is quite another. There is great value in saying aloud something that you are working on in your mind. Worried about your daughter? Wondering if you should change jobs? Thinking you should buy a new car? Simply putting what’s in your head out there to another person forces you to own it. The response of the other person gives you input. This back-and-forth process helps you draw new conclusions and may even give you new ideas. It’s all good.
- Become more interesting: Talking less may feel safer. You’re unlikely to offend another person by saying nothing. However, the risk of being a quiet person is appearing uninteresting to others. Putting something out there (almost anything) gives others something to grab onto and something to remember you by. Unless you’re gabbing on and on about minutia, talking makes you relatable and interesting.
- Rewire your brain: If you’re a non-talker, you are probably being stopped by a combination of introversion, (which is fine and great; we’re not trying to change that here); and your wall. The wall was likely erected in your childhood as a result of subtle or overt messages from your family that your voice was not particularly welcome or interesting. Overriding those messages now as an adult, as often as you can, automatically starts to break through that wall. You can rewire your brain over time, and talking and interacting will become easier and easier for you.
- Have deeper, more valuable relationships: Every word you say empowers you. Every word allows other people in your life to know you better. Every word you say encourages another person to say something back, which allows you to know them better. The better you know each other, the deeper your relationship goes. Deeper relationships are more meaningful, more resilient and more valuable than shallow ones.
If you are an introvert, the idea of talking more may feel energy-draining. If that’s the case, it’s important to listen to your body’s needs and take care of yourself. However, research shows that talking and engaging with other people actually makes introverts happier. So there is a balance, and it’s important not to give in to silence.
Reduce your anxiety, become more interesting, break through your wall, and improve your relationships. All can come from one little habit that you can cultivate in yourself.