I decided to write this post after losing a friend. I didn't feel much resentment when we stopped talking. I actually feel rather free now. I believe that his talk-listen ratio is to blame. Let me explain:
Talk listen ratio: A talk listen ratio, as defined by me, is the proportion of how much time you spend talking to a person vs listening to that person.
There are people who:
- Are fine with someone doing all of the talking
- Are fine with someone else doing a majority of the talking
- Are not fine with someone doing most/all of the talking
As someone who natively is annoyed by someone who does most of the talking (aka the third listing), someone with a high talk ratio drains me. It's even worse when a friend such as the one I had barely comments or brings the conversations back to themselves in the time that you do talk.
I examined another relationship I felt a bit drained by where I felt not listened to - a relationship with one of my parents. In one of the conversations, I went as far as to use a timer to time how much time they spent talking vs how much time I spent talking. The ratio was 1:7. For every one second I spoke, they spoke 7 seconds. By the time I have spoken for 1 minute, they have spoken for 7 minutes. In percentages, 87.5% of the conversation was them talking. Personally, I think anything over 1:2 (66% listening) becomes uncomfortable for me. One article even claims that a 43:57 ratio is recommended, but don't go around timing everyone of course.
A few other things:
- A low talk listen ratio can occasionally be uncomfortable as well to some people. In the 1:7 ratio for example, a person could feel guilt or neglection from a conversation where they're talking 7 times as much as another person.
- Talk listen ratios vary from conversation to conversation, person to person, day to day, etc. It's okay not to have a perfect 1:1 ratio all of the time. There might be days you need to rant or someone else needs to rant.
Moral of the story:
While there are people who are completely fine with doing a majority of the listening, I believe you ultimately rob a decent amount of people of a good conversation when you talk far more than you listen to them.
If you're one of these people, let this be a sign to try listening a little more to someone this week and see how it affects them. If you want to go the extra mile, you can check out this article here on how to stop talking so much. Some other notable tips include:
- "Ask questions instead of filling the space with your own experiences." - Healthline
- Recognize the signs and social cues you're talking too much - Upjourney
- "Listen when other people answer instead of thinking about what you want to say next." - Healthline
- Avoid interrupting, practice not interrupting. "If you have a question or want some clarification, let them finish their sentence and come to a natural pause before you ask." - Healthline