Blather and Prattle

I’m pretty sure we all have at least one person in our lives with Communication Addiction Disorder (CAD)  — except we usually call them “people who talk too much”; “people who like the sound of their own voice”; crashing bores, rude, annoying, etc. Turns out they have a “disorder”. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Approximately 16% of the population has CAD and approximately 84% of the population suffers from CAD. Ha ha.

Here’s how to identify someone with CAD:

  • Whenever you see them, they’re talking.
  • It’s almost impossible to contribute to any conversation in which they’re involved.
  • Any story you might try to start to tell, they will interrupt with an even more amazing story of their own.
  • All of their stories involve excruciating detail about everything and many digressions.
  • They talk almost exclusively about themselves and are very self-absorbed.
  • They voice an opinion about everything and at great length.
  • They spend a lot of time on the phone.
  • They love meetings.
  • They tell you things you already knew and/or which they already told you.
  • They like to manipulate you into siding with them against other people.
  • They do not listen to what other people say.
  • They always behave as if they’re under incredible stress or pressure and tell you how much stress and pressure they’re under (at great length).
  • They tend not to speak at a normal conversational speed – they either talk especially quickly or especially slowly.

(Hmmm. I think I may have the written version of CAD. I promise I’m not as verbose in real life as I am in the blogosphere….Please, someone back me up.)

Anyway, these people are extremely annoying and difficult to work with. I have no idea what they’d be like to live with and have no intention of finding out. I find it’s most often women who have this problem and, in my experience, very often women in managerial positions.

That doesn’t mean you should assume that my current manager has CAD and that I’ve been furiously researching the topic so that my head doesn’t explode the next time I’m cornered by her. No. Not at all. This is purely an academic exercise. Yes indeedy.

So, why can these people never shut up? According to experts it could be any or all of the following:

  • They’re controlling people who are personally out of control.
  • They have low self-esteem/are insecure or have extraordinarily high opinions of themselves.
  • They have anxiety issues.
  • They think they’re smarter or more experienced than everyone else.
  • They feel more important when they’re the ones doing the talking. They equate talking with power.
  • They equate silence with ignorance.
  • They talk to figure out how they’re feeling or what they believe and simply can’t just think things through like normal people.
  • They need to be the centre of attention.
  • They believe people are fascinated by what they have to say.

Anyone with CAD has surely been told more than once that they talk too much but still can’t stop themselves. They can’t stop because they don’t really believe they have a problem or that their excessive talking is causing social rejection and professional suicide. They are “talkaholics”. It’s a condition more difficult to overcome than chronic shyness.

So, that’s nice, but it doesn’t help me people who have to deal with people with CAD. Experts suggest trying any or all of the following:

  • Set a time limit before the conversation begins. Say something like, “I’m sorry, I only have 5 minutes before my next meeting.”
  • Be “rude” yourself and interrupt, saying something like, “Wait a second, I’d like to respond to something you said just now.”
  • Say things like, “I don’t think I need all the details right now. Let me just understand the salient points to begin with.”
  • If all else fails, excuse yourself and say you have to leave. And then leave.

Of course the best thing is not to have people like this in your life. They can suck up hours, days, weeks, years of your life while chattering pointlessly on and on and on and on and on…..

Do you know someone with CAD? How do you cope?


34 responses to “Blather and Prattle

  1. If I were American, I would plead the Fifth Amendment, because it’s all about ME.
    Do you know what torture it is for a person with CAD to live alone? Please say a prayer for my cat.

  2. This post describes a person on my PTA to a TEE. I had no idea it was an actual disorder. Now I kind of feel bad for all the eye rolling I’ve been doing during the meetings.

    Since I’m not running the meeting I mostly do a lot of huffing and sighing and obvious looking at my watch. Lately I’ve started actually getting up to leave if all the actual business that requires my attention has been taken care of, and we have moved on to the “let’s just talk some more to hear ourselves talk” portion of the evening.

    Like most diseases, I now find myself hyper aware of the fact that I may have CAD. MUST. SHUT. UP.

  3. I used to be that person. With me it was like when a subject was brought up, a giant waterfall of information in my brain came pouring out of my mouth. I actually felt the need to get all this information out. At some point I realized it was a bad trait and began a game where I would catch myself talking and then stop and look at my watch and vow to myself not to speak for 10 minutes unless asked a direct question. Over time it progressed to my sometimes going to an event and not speaking the entire time which was sort of overkill. So I understand those people. What I don’t understand is people who tell long detailed stories about people they know that you don’t know. I don’t get that at all and it’s so boring. I understand people talking about themselves, but why these really long boring stories about strangers? What’s that about? And I have an aunt that never stops talking but never talks about herself or other people. For instance she may start a very long story about the best tomatoes that year and then proceed to discuss tomatoes from every year ad infinitum. That’s really weird.

  4. I always thought that CAD was short for Canadian Dollars. I would happily treat anyone suffering from too much CAD by relieving them of it for free. Once again, squirrel has ruined a perfectly serious post with his nonsense.

  5. Bob – I can see you’re using humour to work through your pain of this addiction. The first step is admitting you have a problem, Bob, so you’re well on your way to recovery.

    Lynn – You don’t have to feel bad. Keep rolling the eyes and walking out, otherwise you’re just enabling the CAD. It’s like every other addiction – these people have to come to realize that they’re causing misery and having a big negative impact on other people’s lives. How did your team do on Friday?

    Amy – HA! I haven’t watched SNL in years. Too late for me, these days I guess. Thanks for the link.

    Dr. Monkey – If you actually had CAD you would have just gone right ahead and told me all about it without the warning.

    Geewits – Interesting. I knew someone like you once who had a lot of data stored in his brain and could hold forth for hours on a particular topic. I think that must be something a little different than CAD though because CAD people prattle on about pointless stuff and meander from one topic to another AND it’s almost always about them or someone they know or heard about or something they did — like your aunt. The guy I knew actually talked very little about himself, but he was very smart and knew an incredible amount of information about the most obscure things. Sometimes he was interesting. Sometimes not so much. I’m glad you found a balance.

    LGS – Yes, stop making a mockery of this very important topic! And no, you can’t have any of our funny colourful money. I think you’re just covering up for the fact that you have CAD yourself!! Aha!

    AmyMusings – Like I said to Bob, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Congratulations.

  6. Most people like the sound of their own voice and are very self absorbed, but I think the ones who definitely fit the entire description of CAD would be people on “reality shows”.

  7. I have a clone of Geewits’ aunt. Although it’s not all about her. But she can start telling you a story about someone you don’t even know and then she’ll go off on a tangent about how some other person in the story once got lost on her way to such a place which is weird because she’d been there before and that person’s poor sister has alzheimers but her brother who lives in arizona doesn’t, he was once married to… AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH.

    If ever I become like that, someone please shoot me and put everyone out of their misery.

  8. I worked with a woman a few years ago who definitely had this. I’m no wallflower…I have no trouble holding my own in conversations under normal circumstances, but when I would talk with this woman the conversation was always 95% her and 5% me. She would interrupt me, hush me up and say things like “but let’s not talk about that” and then get the conversation back to whatever she wanted to discuss. It was so bizarre (and occasionally infuriating).

    She drove me crazy, but I also felt sorry for her. She was an extremely intelligent woman and a capable worker, but people hated interacting with her. I don’t think she recognized what the issue was, either. She couldn’t see why when she worked so hard and did so much that people didn’t give her any respect. Um…maybe cause you won’t give them a word in edgewise?

  9. I have long maintained that many people talk solely for the purpose of keeping their voices in working order in case they should someday find themselves with something important to say.

  10. Personally although I abhor the medicalizing of every personality trait in the world, I feel that virtually everyone I know has this “disorder”.
    If they didn’t, then they would all shut up and listen to me because what I have to say about everything, is so much more important and intelligent than their drivel.

  11. this is every six-year-old girl i know. and a good number of the boys also. but i’m the nanny, so what do i do? i suffer.

    i won’t tolerate this from adults, tho. i get enough of it at work.

    my coping mechanism with the kids is to interrupt them with, ‘for christ’s limping sake, take a breath!’ or to dose them with a bach flower – heather is great for this. it doesn’t do magic, but it’s comforting to have a clear course of action when you’re going up the wall from their ceaseless rattletrapping.

  12. Some people need to talk in order to think. Its like it activates their brain. My missus is like this and I have learnt to keep half an ear out for the important points, while I do other things…like sleep. She will also talk to vent and I totatly understand that.

    I have been known to talk the hind leg off of a donkey but only on rare occasions.

    I have a roommate that had CAD… among other things. It got to the point that I told him, of you want to talk to me you will have to call me on the phone (we had 2 lines in the house) so that when I think you have talked too much I can hang up on you.

    It was very effective. He learnt where people’s limits were. But he was an aweful listener and still is to this day.

    I think the cure for CAD is listening. Teach them how to listen and they won’t need to talk.

    Or whatever.


  13. “16% has CAD and 84% suffers from CAD. Ha ha.” You are hilarious!

    I think there are two kinds of CAD:

    One is the self-absorbed person who is all about the drama and me-me-me – she usually has a huge sense of entitlement. The other is the person with no social skills (who we have already discussed on your blog). I know both types and I think the one with the brain disorder and no social skills is easier to train than the drama queen. If a person is self-absorbed and never stops talking, no amount of pointing this out will help. In fact, I think if you CAN get a word in edgewise, she will still think it is all about her. She has to go into therapy and learn how not to be self-absorbed. But a person who has a sense of entitlement will rarely even think she has a problem, much less go get help for it. On the other hand, the person who lacks social skills actually feels the has a problem and if it is pointed out that his is being a bore, he might actually feel embarrassed and get help for it.

    Eyeteaguy made some valid points but I think his missus is just an extrovert like my mister. Extroverts talk through what they are thinking, while they are thinking it. CAD folks make you crazy with all the talking and you have to flee. Hence XUP’s post.

  14. Nope, no clue at all what you are talking about… nope, we don’t have a saying in the office about “being sucked into the void.” Nope not me. Every thing is perfect… and I can take time off when the Boy is sick, no fear of the week from hell to follow. Nope… not me.

  15. Hannah – Hmmm…reality shows – a good outlet for the CADs or just producing more?

    Jazz- I’ll make a note of your request in my Daytimer and will get back to you should the need arise.

    Mary Lynn – I have trouble feeling sorry for these self-absorbed people. They make life too difficult for the rest of us — especially when you have to work FOR them and they call meetings every 5 minutes that go on for hours and then you can’t get any work done.

    Savanvleck – I think if you know you have it you might be okay. But pay attention when you’re talking and see if the other person’s eyes are glazing over or if they keep looking around for rescue or keep checking their watch. If you don’t remember a single thing they said during the conversation you probably do have CAD. Get help!!

    The Fool – I’m so excited that I have a Fool on my blog now. The Fool speaks truths the rest of us can’t vocalize. Thanks for your input. I hope you’ll become a permanent fixture, like Shakespeare’s Fools.

    Bandobras – This is where I’m supposed to laugh and say, “Oh you! You don’t have CAD.” Right? Ha ha ha… maybe just a touch when you’ve been drinking…

    Hallie – Ah yes, the nanny that doses the kids with “herbal” remedies…a good thing to nip in the bud before it gets so insidious that they can’t stop.

    Eyeteaguy – You’d think he’d get the message when people would only speak to him on the phone and then hang up? I don’t think they want to listen because they don’t believe anyone else has anything useful to say. I know in my own example she always frowns when someone else manages to squeeze a word in and then negates everything they’ve said….at great length, of course.

    Julia – The social skills one is maybe a little like Geewits example. People who are intelligent and know a lot of stuff, but don’t quite know how to work a conversation — they just lecture. I think that’s very different than CAD. I don’t remember your hubby being overly talkative though. It IS crazy-making when people are doing all their thinking out loud, however. How do you know when they’re actually talking to you and need a response?

    Olivia – EVERYONE? Gadzooks! We have 2. I would love to get them in a room together and see what happens.

    Not Nat – I’m telling you, government breeds these CAD folks — especially the women managers. I don’t know what it is. There ought to be a study. (If the actual Nat is reading this, I hope she’s exploring her options. There are quite a few in her field.)

  16. I have some friends who are extremely dear to me and they treat me like family.

    But I have a hard time handling the one person. Good Lord, they just wont’ STOP talking.

    Everything is a “story”. Told in painful detail, about EACH and EVERY event that happened in their life. Doesn’t matter if it was yesterday, or 30 years ago.

    Basically stop what you’re doing, shut up and listen, because they’re going to tell you another freaking “story” whether you like it or not. It’s all about “Me, me, me…pay attention to ME!”.

    Last time I visited, it dawned on me the ONLY time this person wasn’t talking to me, was (a), when I slept or (b) when I was in the bathroom. Literally. (I’m not kidding!)

    It boggles my mind how someone can be like this. It’s almost like a mental illness or something.

    Anyway, I don’t visit as much. I feel guilty about it, because they’re nice people

    But I just can’t HANDLE it.

  17. Ugh, that bitch Trina just like that. Every time I try to get a word in she starts talking about how beautiful and long her hair is. We all no that’s a weave! Please. Bitch be quiet! Scuse my French.

  18. Yes, yes I do…

    I’m not saying it’s really effective but yelling “PULL THE FUCKING CAR OVER!!!” jumping out and yelling “I”M WALKING HOME IF YOU CAN’T SHUT UP FOR 15 MINUTES” does allow for a shocked silence and regrouping on your part.

  19. Usually, you don’t know when they are just thinking or when they want a response! After 26 years, my default position is still that he must want a response but now he has learned to interrupt me and say, “I was just thinking out loud” or venting, or whatever. And he is nowhere near as chatty as other people who think out loud. He waits until he has something to say. And he doesn’t like to talk just to hear himself talk. You can actually discern his thought processes if you pay attention.

  20. My issues:
    i tend to walk away from conversations thinking i have given away wayyy too much information, or worried that i have accidentally insulted someone. i have a bad case of foot in mouth. apparently this is a common trait of sagitarrians.

    How I deal with others:
    i have a red flag on my cubicle at work – if it is up, it means i’m busy and don’t interrupt unless work related/v. important.
    at home, if i don’t feel like listening/talking, i don’t answer the phone. these two tricks help me out immensely. diving into a book on the bus also helps keeps the talkies at bay (i’m not anti-social, really!)
    my youngest might have CAD, she can talk the ear off anyone. luckily, she doesn’t discriminate and will preach to inanimate objects when she loses her human audience.

  21. I’d like to add BCAD (Blogging Communication Disorder).

    People who leave comments that have nothing to do with your post, or the current comment thread.

    Instead, they somehow manage to turn it into another rambling Life Story about THEM THEM THEM.

    Doesn’t happen too often. But it does.

  22. This stream of consciousness chatter is one reason I hated Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
    Much prefer Jeopardy. “What is ‘can’t you hear me silently scream’?”

  23. Friar – Well according to experts, it IS a mental illness. And I don’t blame you for keeping away. People like that are mentally and physically exhausting. I always feel totally sapped of energy when I spend time with someone with CAD.

    Rondell – Yo, like, whatever…

    ICSMNTT – Ha! But then you have to walk, What if you’re in the middle of nowhere? What if, maybe, you just don’t get in the car with them ever again? Is that possible?

    Julia – Mr. Julia seems like a pretty sane fellow to me. If he has a CAD problem he must confine it to home and you. Awwwwww.

    Meanie – HA! The red flag. We have someone at work who just started recently. She was with another department for 2 weeks. They were all big on the red flag thing and it drove her so crazy she had to leave. There she was new and no one would talk to her. She had lots of questions but every time she tried to ask them, they’d point sternly to the flag.

    Friar – That happens a lot on your blog, doesn’t it?

    Violetsky – Are there actually any reasons to LIKE WWTBAM? Jeopardy, on the other hand, kicks ass.

  24. sounds like they were abusing the red flag. i don’t turn away people if they have work-related questions, i’m just trying to keep away the girl who-is-the-first-woman-to-ever-be-with-child and the gossips.

  25. I just stumbled upon this quote and had to share it with you, apropos this blog entry:

    O, he is as tedious
    As a tired horse, a railing wife;
    Worse than a smoky house: I had rather live
    With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far,
    Than feed on cates and have him talk to me
    In any summer-house in Christendom.

    Henry IV, Part I

  26. Oh, yes. And very high maintainence, my friend. Rudeness simply doesn’t work on her, so I pour myself a drink and read while she talks, emitting the occasional ‘hmmm’ or ‘of course!’ Works for me.

  27. Meanie – Abusing the Red Flag!! I hope it’s in our collective agreement next time – ha ha.

    Julia – How apropos!

    Anna – Hey! Welcome to my blog. And thanks for commenting. Next time I’ll have some cake and tea ready for you//or maybe a scotch.

  28. i am a magnet to these people, i don’t know what it is but they find me. for many years, thinking i had to endure their torturous non-stop talking. my mother does it so maybe that’s where i got my start.

    i saw a news story about it and they said it’s one way that people keep a wall up, by not listening to others, talking over them, and never letting them respond.

    over the past few years, i’ve worked really hard on my end of things, by leaving even if they are still talking. or, not returning their calls or answering the phone when they call. especially if i am in the middle of something. it’s a hard thing to begin but it’s working for me.

    this is the main reason why i prefer internet communication b/c i can come and go as i please 🙂