Gasbags? The extreme gasbags are the verbal terrorists of our social world. They’re friendly and peace-loving, but they do take hostages for up to an hour or more.

Their primary mission is to talk, whether you want to hear what they say or not. They do at least 80% of the talking in any situation, and often see themselves as “…friendly…” and having the “…gift of gab.” They will often answer questions directed to others and, if you pause for a breath, they will complete your sentences for you. Once they get your ear, you’ll be held hostage for an extended period of time. Eventually, you’ll become desperate for a way to escape.

Here are 3 ways to gracefully gain your freedom:

1. Tag Team– This is where you divert the focus of your abductor to a nearby victim with a comment like, “Joe, you gotta hear what Marv has to say.” Marv’s attention and verbal onslaught shifts to Joe and you’re free to quietly slip away. You can apologize to Joe later.

2. Exit Stage Right– A gasbag doesn’t pause to breathe. He’s mastered the art of speaking on an inhale or an exhale. Neither is he likely to ask for your thoughts. So, if you’re to speak, you must look for an opportunity to snatch the mike from him. Keep in mind that this isn’t so you can give your side of the story, but so that you can engineer your escape. The gasbag isn’t really interested in what you think, anyway. Here’s how you get the mike.

Try a touch on the shoulder or elbow, or a searching glance over the gasbag’s shoulder, this can cause the talker to briefly pause. Now you quickly take control of the mike and begin speaking. As you talk, you also start to move toward an exit, but don’t stop talking or take a breath until you’ve either disappeared from sight or said something like, “Sorry, I’ve got to run.”

3. Buddy System– This is prearranged with someone else who has learned to recognize when you’ve been “captured.” They then either call, text or interrupt you with something that “…needs your immediate attention.” You say to your captor, “Marv, sorry, but I need to tend to this right away.” The release is reluctantly made.

These techniques are short term solutions and don’t deal with the heart of the problem.

Gasbags are usually well-intentioned people who don’t have a clue that their verbosity creates relational tensions that hinder them socially and keep them from leadership positions. Excessive talkers aren’t seen as an asset on decision making boards and committees. As a caring friend you can help your verbal buddy. Here’s the best long-term solution.

Develop a caring and honest relationship with the individual so that you can have a frank dialogue about the talking issue. Unfortunately, such candor, even between close friends, is rare and seldom done with confidence and sensitivity, but it can be done. Learn more here….

Of course, there will be those times when you’ll sense that this person who is going on and on has a need that calls for you to sacrifice your time and really listen to them. Effective listening is a great way to show love and caring.

But maybe you’re the gasbag. How can you tell? Ask a loving friend who’s a straight shooter if he thinks you talk too much. If in the subsequent conversation, you do most of the talking, you’re a gasbag.

I hope that I didn’t go on too long with this piece. You don’t suppose I could be a gasbag, do you?