You Already Said That: The Problem with Repeating Yourself, and the Best Ways to Break the Habit

We all have certain subjects that we just love talking about. Whether it’s a TV show, book series, favorite hobby, or topic of interest, almost everyone has something they could go on and on about. The problem with going on and on, though, is that it can make a conversation feel repetitive, and boring. When you’re too rigid about the topic you want to discuss, and all your conversations seem to link back to it, others may lose interest in talking to you.

For that reason, breaking free of repetition can be essential in order for you to make and keep friends. If you notice that your conversations tend to go in circles, it might be time to break the habit. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1.  Recognize When You’re Repeating Yourself. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re excited about a certain topic, which is why you may begin to repeat things without even realizing you’re doing it. That’s why the first step to breaking this habit is to recognize that you have this habit. Do you find that this subject comes up in every conversation you have? Does it come up more than once per conversation? Do the people you’re talking to often say things like “you said that already” or “you already told me.” If so, repetition might have become a part of your conversation routine, and it’s time to make a change.
  2. Recognize Why You’re Repeating Yourself. Are you doing it for emphasis? To remind someone of something? Or are you simply doing it because you’re not sure what else to say? If you find repetition is your go-to “space filler” in conversation, you may want to try out some other ways to keep the momentum. Try changing the subject to something completely new, or giving the other person a chance to do the talking. If it seems like the conversation has run its course, it’s okay to politely excuse yourself.
  3. Listen Closely. When you let your mind wander during a conversation, you may lose track of the topic at hand. Then, repeating something you’ve already discussed may seem like the only way to keep from checking out of the conversation completely. Instead, try to stay engaged in the conversation as it’s happening. Ask questions, add comments, and make eye contact. Let the conversation lead you to unexpected places, and remember there’s no need to keep returning to topics you’ve already covered.
  4. When in doubt, Ask. If it’s possible you’ve already shared this story, and you don’t want to repeat yourself, it never hurts to ask. Simply say, “Have I told you about the time I…?” or “I can’t remember if I already mentioned…” You may find that the person you’re speaking to is open to hearing more. But if they’re not, it’s best to let the subject drop.

Like most habits, repeating yourself might take some effort to break. But by keeping these tips in mind, and allowing the conversation to progress naturally, you can make a huge difference in how others feel about talking to you.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More