I have a confession to make

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Ihave a confession to make: I talk too much. If you know me personally, that’s probably not a surprise to you. In fact, you’re probably nodding your head in agreement right now. Whether I’m at work, with family, or with a group of friends I’m normally talking. Yes, it’s true I can “turn off” the chatterbox mode but I’m not shy. In fact, my talkative tendencies have probably helped me in growing my business although that’s not the goal of my loquaciousness. This week’s article is going to be shorter than most, so that I am not guilty of being too wordy in writing like I can be when speaking.

Some close associates of mine have pointed out my garrulousness which has inspired me to do a bit of reflection. What I try not to do is gossip or talk behind people’s back. In general I avoid people who are prone to gossip. If I’m totally honest I’m probably a bit naive and don’t even recognize it when people may be talking about me behind my back. I tend to be a trusting person and assume most people are that way as well. This is one reason, among many, why I avoid politics and have never sought to run for political office.

Before you judge, let me explain why my chatterbox tendencies aren’t all bad. Being talkative has its good points and it’s bad points. First, let’s examine why I talk so much.

Yours truly at the Fayette Chamber of Commerce talking about how the Lessons of Ted Lasso can apply to business on 9/20/23. Photo/Mia Scarbrough
Yours truly at the Fayette Chamber of Commerce talking about how the Lessons of Ted Lasso can apply to business on 9/20/23. Photo/Mia Scarbrough

One of the main reasons I talk so much is that I’m genuinely excited to share new things. Whether it’s a fascinating article I read, a personal experience that I think someone might find interesting, or some historical factoid about days gone by, I can’t help but share my enthusiasm with others. My excitement bubbles over, and before I know it, I’m off on a tangent, explaining every little detail. My wife is very patient with me as I often repeat stories and observations I’ve shared before. My long-time employees probably feel the same way. My trend towards being more voluble has increased as I’ve gotten older and accumulated experiences. Thanks for being patient with me y’all.

Another reason I can’t seem to keep quiet is that I genuinely don’t like it when a group of people is too quiet. Silence can be uncomfortable, and I often feel compelled to fill it. This isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes, my chatter can help break the ice in awkward situations or bring life to a dull meeting. However, I admit it can be overwhelming for those who prefer a quieter environment. Not everyone can jump right in to contribute to a discussion. Sometimes that’s a matter of style, but it can be deliberate.

A long time ago before I started my business, I was an overpaid consultant managing a multi-million dollar e-commerce project for a client. The client had a habit of having three meetings when considering any major decision. In the first meeting I had to present my ideas to a single person to vet them ahead of time. Then, we had the actual meeting where the decision maker was present. He would sit there in silence as I presented my report. It was as if the person couldn’t speak, which drove me crazy. The third and final meeting was with the original client contact who shared the big boss’s feedback as a kind of mediator even though none was needed. I never forgot that strange arrangement and to this day feel uncomfortable with situations like that. Why can’t everyone just get in a room and freely discuss ideas and make decisions? Again, I would never make it in politics where a lot of “back room” deals are made.

The Good Points of Talking Too Much

Let’s start with the positives. Talking a lot means I’m always engaging with people, sharing ideas, and sparking conversations. This can be particularly useful in my roles as a business owner, community leader, and marketing professional. In marketing, communication is key. The more I talk, the more I can share our vision, promote our services, and connect with clients. Additionally, talking a lot often leads to more networking opportunities. By being open and engaging, I can connect with a wide range of people, which can lead to new collaborations, partnerships, and friendships.

Over the years I’ve been asked to be a speaker at various gatherings and enjoy the opportunity to share and meet new people. Sometimes people take advantage of my interest. A few years ago a local group approached me to speak about our local economy from my perspective as a long-time business owner. The group was honest that their original guest speaker wasn’t available and I was the back-up choice. I said “yes”. Two days before the event, they called me back and said the original speaker was available again and that they preferred to have him speak instead. To add insult to injury, they then invited me to purchase a ticket to hear the other person speak. Really? Pro tip – if you invite someone to participate in an event and plans change most people will understand, but you shouldn’t charge them to attend. Although the group who did this is still around, they have declined in influence over the years – probably because they’ve done stuff like this to other people. Talkative people like me can be helpful in a pinch, but please don’t take advantage of it.

From the top of Amicalola Falls - yours truly (far right) serving as a volunteer hike leader on a senior adult trip with Fayette County Parks & Recreation on 4/20/2024. Photo/Joe Domaleski
From the top of Amicalola Falls – yours truly (front, far right) serving as a volunteer hike leader on a senior adult trip with Fayette County Parks & Recreation on 4/20/2024. Photo/Joe Domaleski

On the other hand, being talkative can be put to good use in other areas. It’s been my pleasure to volunteer with various groups and serve as a tour guide or hike leader. I’m all too eager to share facts, information, and history with an eager audience. I can’t tell you how many hikes I’ve lead in our local community pointing out trails, natural features, and local history. I’m not a historian and will defer to my friends at the Fayette County Historical Society for more detailed historical information if needed. Sharing is fun – with the right audience.

The Not-So-Good Points

Yes, talking too much does have its downsides. For starters, it can be exhausting for those around me. I am appreciative to everyone who’s been candid with me about this. I hear you and am trying to get better. It’s not that I don’t care about your input, because I do. The older I get the more history I’ve accumulated and want to share. Yet, I’ve come to understand that just being the “old guy” in the room doesn’t mean I have a monopoly on ideas or perspectives. Not everyone wants to hear my small business “war stories”, detailed expositions of the latest marketing trends, or my enthusiastic deep dive into the mathematics of machine learning. One of the reasons I agreed to write this column was to give me a forum to do things like that in writing, knowing that the audience who reads my stuff does so willingly and isn’t subjected to my hot air in person. Thank you for reading my stuff.

The author hoping his audience is as interested as he is in the mathematics of neural networks. Trilith 12/11/23. Photo/Zavion Green
The author hoping his audience is as interested as he is in the mathematics of neural networks. Trilith 12/11/23. Photo/Zavion Green

It’s been pointed out to me that talking too much can sometimes lead to missing out on valuable input from others. When I’m busy sharing my thoughts, I inadvertently dominate the conversation, leaving little room for others to contribute. This can result in missed opportunities for learning and growth. You already know I have trouble with “dead air” but have come to realize that silence is okay. Some people aren’t good at speaking up in a public setting. Others may need to cogitate on ideas and then present them at a later time. As a consultant I’ve had to “think on my feet” but perhaps that’s not the only way to do things. Technology, particularly smart phones, exacerbate the problem of quiet and it’s not too uncommon to find people in the same room texting each other instead of talking. Before I adopt a self-righteous Generation X posture by saying that everyone needs to put down their phones, a more nuanced opinion is to say that maybe we just need more balance in communication frequency and styles.

Striking a Balance

So, what’s the solution? For me personally, I think the key is to find a balance between sharing my excitement and allowing space for others to speak. I’ve been working on becoming a better listener, giving others the chance to share their thoughts and ideas. This not only helps me learn from different perspectives but also fosters a more inclusive and collaborative environment. It’s not easy, but I am trying. The following quote has been attributed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Actor Douglas Fairbanks, and a Dr. Dr. C. Z. Weiser back in the 1880’s. Although the true attribution remains lost to time, I think it’s a great quote:

When you are called upon to speak; be sincere, be brief, and be seated.

Please know that while I may talk too much, my chatter comes from a place of genuine enthusiasm and a desire to connect with others. But until then, if you ever need a fluent person to fill an awkward silence or share a new idea with unbridled enthusiasm, you know where to find me.

PS – Yes, I know I dropped a lot of big words in this article, most of which are synonyms for being talkative. Thanks to the online Oxford Languages dictionary and thesaurus for the assistance and increase in my vocabulary while writing this piece.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25+ years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. Joe is a recipient of the Peachtree City Rotary Club Business Leader of the Year Award for 2024. Sign up for the Country Fried Creative newsletter to get marketing and business articles directly in your inbox. You can connect with Joe directly on LinkedIn for more insights and updates.]