Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
As the son of the (first female) president, Alex was thrust onto the national stage as a teenager. When most college students are out having fun, Alex walks the halls of congress to learn the newest gossip or lobby senators. Alex is very smart, exceptionally passionate about politics, and hardworking. He is constantly under a microscope. And on the surface, he’s handling it kind of well.
So what’s the tell that Alex is struggling? There are a few. But here we are focused on one.
He. Won’t. Stop. Talking.
And it’s not like he’s not getting feedback. His sister and his best friend (and others) repeatedly say things like: “it’s my turn to talk. It’s not always about you.”
There are many reasons why people talk too much. Sometimes they are narcissistic, lack social awareness, struggle with social cues, or feel deeply misunderstood and try to make themselves known to others.
But I don’t think any of these things is true for Alex. I think he talks so (damn) much because he’s insecure and has a fear of true intimacy. Talking, for Alex, is a way to control the situations he finds himself in and moves the conversation toward things he feels safe talking about.
Throughout the book, Alex becomes increasingly self-aware. Let’s say that he realized he’s a talkaholic. We’ll talk more about becoming secure and emotionally intimate another day. In the meantime, how might Alex change his behaviors?
Here are some tips:
Ask more questions (and listen to the answers…).
Think of conversation as being like a tennis match. Remember to keep the ball moving.
Take deep breaths and count to 3 before talking, especially if you are about to interrupt.
Ask yourself – what is the point of this conversation? What do I want out of it, and what does the other person want?
Alex’s big dreams include helping people. He’ll do a much better job helping others if he hears them and understands their stressors from their perspective. Then he’ll have an even more profound impact on history.