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Why do Some People Talk a Lot When They are Nervous?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
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Stress and fear of the unknown can trigger some interesting human behaviors, including the need for incessant nervous chatter. There are some people who cover their feelings by filling the air with words, a condition sometimes called logorrhea. Many cases of true logorrhea are connected with diagnosed manic conditions, however, not the chattiness of a first-time flyer or nervous public speaker. For most people, talking serves as some sort of calming mechanism in reaction to certain stressors.

Not everyone talks too much when they become nervous. Some people tend to shut down verbally when faced with a stressful situation. The last thing they want to do is appear too talkative or sociable. But a number of people find talking to be a stress reliever, at least for themselves. As long as they can continue talking, other thoughts and fears cannot enter their consciousness. A nervous flier, for example, may talk his way through the entire take-off process as a way to reassure himself nothing is going wrong.

Other people talk excessively when nervous as a way to establish a bond with others, albeit an imperfect one at times. A nervous job applicant may spend her time talking to other applicants in order to calm down before an interview. By expressing her fears and making small talk, she may be able to gain enough confidence to handle the interview better. One person's talking can often encourage others to share their own experiences or concerns.

Another reason some people talk too much when nervous is a temporary loss of focus. This happens quite often when a speaker forgets a crucial part of a prepared speech and is forced to improvise. The fear of leaving out some critical fact or observation can cause some people to go into verbal overdrive. Some speakers may feel nervous due to perceived time constraints, so they will speak much faster than normal. Once a person has had time to collect himself or herself, however, the need for excessive talk often dissipates quickly.

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Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to InfoBloom, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon243056 — On Jan 26, 2012

@pollick: I agree. I do the same, or when a lot of words stay inside me unspoken.

By pollick — On Apr 26, 2011

I think some people talk to themselves while stressed or nervous in order to get a sense of normalcy. I've been known to give myself a pep talk when nervous, because I can't always count on other people to do it for me.

Nervous laughter is more of a reflex action, like the body would rather be crying but you know you can't afford to break down emotionally at that moment. I've sometimes said something because something like a sad scene in a movie was so moving that if I don't laugh, I'll cry. Other people may have a similar reaction when in a scary situation, or completely frustrated by a work-related problem. If you can't scream or cry or let out your emotions in a normal way, what often comes out is nervous laughter.

I've seen people do this at funerals, when someone tells a little joke to break the tension and they can't stop "laughing".

By artlover — On Feb 23, 2011

I tend to talk a lot when I am nervous. I never made the connection before, but it can make you feel better about what is going on. Another thing I find that I do and my daughter tends to do also, is to have nervous laughter. Sometimes when we are nervous about something we will just burst out laughing and not really know why, what was said wasn't that funny. Has anyone else experienced this? Is this connected in any way to how the brain or nervous system respond when under stress?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to InfoBloom, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
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