Conversational Narcissism: People Who Don't Stop Talking

Some people are addicted to talking. They're conversational narcissists who don't hesitate in maintaining unbridled monologues, sometimes with people they barely know. Do you know anyone like this?
Conversational Narcissism: People Who Don't Stop Talking

Last update: 18 May, 2022

Conversational narcissism doesn’t define any particular psychological disorder. Even so, it’s difficult to live with someone who shows this characteristic. They’re speech addicts, ‘serial communicators’ who, while they don’t kill anyone, certainly wear them down. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many of these people end up pushing others away and becoming increasingly isolated.

Research states that about four percent of the population exhibit conversational narcissism or talkaholism, an addiction to speech. They’re the kinds of people who, despite being aware that they talk excessively, don’t consider it to be a problem. In fact, they generally perceive themselves as assertive and competent figures, well versed in interesting topics.

However, their speeches are little more than soliloquies overloaded with inconsequential details. Even more important, they forget that conversations should be respectful and reciprocal exchanges of information between two or more people. Therefore, it isn’t hard to deduce that the kind of person who’s addicted to the sound of their own voice possesses a specific type of personality.

Irresponsible self-expression or logorrhea isn’t easy to control by those who exhibit it. They talk non-stop, despite knowing that whoever is in front of them isn’t listening.

Bored man because his wife suffers from conversational narcissism
Conversational narcissists can talk to strangers for hours about purely personal matters.

Conversational narcissism

Genuine connection involves the decentralization of the self. In other words, we go out of our way to place our attention on the other person. From that point, we create a bond, a back and forth bridge between the two of us. On the other hand, the person characterized by conversational narcissism remains anchored in the egocentric stage of a three-year-old child.

This is the phase when little ones believe they’re the center of the whole world and are authorized to demand everyone’s attention. We’ve all come across adults like this. They might be that stranger who, when we’re getting on the subway or queuing in a shopping center, is waiting to strike up a conversation with us.

Initially, we’re shocked by their self-confidence and ease in revealing matters that belong in the private sphere. With no escape route, we’re limited to nodding our heads and trying to be respectful in the face of ‘conversational diarrhea’ or logorrhea. However, the issue is far more serious when the compulsive verbalizer is someone close. For instance, a friend or family member.

The misunderstood ‘loquacity’

We live in a society that perceives the loquacious and communicative person as assertive, self-confident, and in possession of good leadership skills. We tend to believe that “The more we talk and the faster we talk, the smarter we seem.” Nevertheless, it’s extremely common to find leaders who can communicate for hours without actually issuing a single useful message for their organization.

The University of Kentucky conducted research that claimed narcissism defines argumentative, controlling people with high self-esteem. They stress the importance of knowing how to differentiate the ‘talkative’ person from the one who does it compulsively.

So remarkable is this feature that the Talkaholic Scale was developed in 1993 by James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond. Thanks to this instrument, we can detect the real addict to verbiage and compulsive conversation. It’s really useful, for, as we pointed out earlier, this trait may be present in around four percent of the population.

How conversational narcissism manifests itself

Conversational narcissism is defined by a deep hunger not just to talk, but to communicate with someone. Whoever they may be. In fact, conversational narcissists simply need a person who listens to them, a ‘dump truck’ in which they can throw all their random reasonings, insignificant anecdotes, absurd thoughts, and anodyne experiences.

  • Serial speakers don’t understand the basic meaning of the word communicate. They overlook the art of listening. They also don’t exchange information or practice reciprocity with whoever they’re talking to.
  • They’re fully aware that they can overwhelm others with their verbiage. However, they don’t care. Occasionally, they might even apologize and then continue talking.
  • They perceive themselves as good communicators. They’re not. They go off the rails, lose the threads of their monologues, give details without any meaning or significance, and say the same thing several times.
  • Often, they don’t even look the other person in the eye. They remain suspended at an imaginary point while they let their logorrhea flow.
Friends talking symbolizing conversational narcissism
The conversational narcissist is almost never satisfied.

The cause of conversational narcissism

As we’ve already pointed out, conversational narcissism isn’t a psychological disorder. Nevertheless, it’s a recurrent characteristic in certain personalities. In fact, the University of West Virginia conducted an investigation in which it determined that the compulsive talker usually presents a personality with an extroverted, psychotic, and neurotic structure.

We’re not simply dealing with talkative people here. They’re people who are addicted to speech. Furthermore, they’re often disrespectful and argumentative, and it’s rarely possible to reach an agreement with them or even simply enjoy a conversation.

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  • Bostrom, Robert N.; Grant Harrington, Nancy (1999). “An Exploratory Investigation Of Characteristics Of Compulsive Talkers”. Communication Education. 48 (1): 73–80. doi:10.1080/03634529909379154
  • McCroskey, James C.; Richmond, Virginia P. (1993). “Identifying Compulsive Communicators: The Talkaholic Scale”. Communication Research Reports. 10 (2): 107–114. doi:10.1080/08824099309359924
  • McCroskey, James C.; Heisel, Alan D.; Richmond, Virginia P. (2001). “Eysenck’s BIG THREE And Communication Traits: Three Correlational Studies”. Communication Monographs68 (4): 360. doi:10.1080/03637750128068