Are you a communication withdrawer or an overtalker?

Relationships can be made or broken by communication. One of the most common communication traps into which couples fall is created when one person talks endlessly and the other speaks naught.

ettaTuning out causes a mate to over talk the issue creating a shut-down response manifesting in a never ending cycle. Eventually, this cycle can create such frustration that the mates become embattled, insulting and abusing one another. All communication is lost and eventually, the relationship.

Each side holds a valid position. Each side feeds the poor behavior in the other. Each begins to feel justified in spewing insults and abuse. The irony of this impasse is that each wants the exact same thing: to be heard and create a solution with which they can both live.

The problem is that the over-talk/tune-out or tune-out/over-talk cycle has become their pattern and no one is willing to get off the merry-go-round from hell long enough to take a few simple steps and begin truly communicating. It does not matter who started the cycle. Someone has to take the first step.

Firstly, recognize your pattern and understand that no matter how justified you feel in responding, know it is not okay. You are not communicating and your response is not life-affirming behavior.

The second step is to understand how your behavior harms your mate.

Over talking is demeaning. It actually hurts the ears. It wears the recipient down until he has no energy or even incentive left with which to respond. He may actually become so closed as to not even hear you when you ask a simple, ‘what do you want for dinner’ type question. The recipient of constant battering may become depressed and further withdraw.

Withdrawing from your mate’s obvious need to discuss something is equally dismissive. The recipient may feel ignored and hurt. They may become desperate to be heard, raising their voice and hurling shock value insults. They may turn to others to be heard. You may lose your mate altogether.

The third step becomes much easier if you truly commit to steps 1 and 2. STOP doing the behavior. Set yourself up for a win. Know your triggers.

If you over talk, shut up and listen. Ask questions and wait for a response. Do not interrupt. Do not correct your mate, even if he is wrong. If you must speak, talk softly and calmly, no matter how frustrated you may feel. Think before your speak. Speak only in positives. Condense your 10,000 word essay into a few short, simple sentences. Make clear and concise statements and requests.

If you shut down, state your position slowly, clearly and positively. Keep talking even if you are interrupted. Be sure you feel as if your mate truly comprehended your position. If you feel you must walk away, then state that you will discuss the situation at a future date and set an exact time and date and keep the appointment.

The final step is to practice these steps. Remember your goals: To hear and be heard; to reach an equitable solution. Do not accuse your mate of his behavior. You are responsible for your position, not his. Utilize the steps listed and do them fully and whole heartedly. Tape copies of the steps where you can see them.

Follow the steps at every conversation. Do them religiously and your mate will become bathed in love, acceptance and the opportunity to be heard. His response will become more loving and accepting, and he, like you, will become willing to listen as well as be heard.

Three Simple Steps to Communication:
1. Become aware of and know that your behavior is not communication.
2. Know how your behavior affects your mate. Know he is in pain.
3. Stop the behavior.
4. Practice these steps. Remember your goals: To hear and be heard; to reach a solution.

Signs of an Over Talker
You repeat yourself.
You speak without taking a breath.
You feel desperate if someone ignores you.
You interrupt.
You are thinking of your response before the speaker has finished.
You speak louder, thinking you will be heard.
You use profanity or insults to shock someone into hearing you.

Signs of a Withdrawer
You stare blankly at the person speaking and hear nothing.
If there was a quiz on the conversation you just heard, you would fail.
You walk away while someone is speaking.
You agree noncommittally and then ignore or forget the request.
You daydream or do something else while someone is speaking.
You appear catatonic.
Your response has nothing to do with the conversation.

You may contact Maria Etta Anabel at

By Maria Etta Anabel