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As an Introvert, I am not very social in nature. However, on certain occasions, I have found myself to be forced to interact with people. I tend to always be thinking of something when someone is trying to talk to me.

The problem is that when they do try to talk to me, I respond in talking really fast, due to my nervousness and anxiety.

This has become a problem, as people seem to feel that I was signalling them to "Shut up", or just "Don't talk to me".

For example someone asked me :

Hi, is this seat taken?

Which I responded by talking really fast :

Yeah, Yeah ! Sorry ,this seat is taken.

Another example:

A colleague of mine said to me:

Hello! Good morning!

Sort of within the split second that he said that to me:

Hello ! Hey, what's up?

Then my colleague just walked away, looking disappointed/annoyed.

My Question

Are there any ways to address people talking fast while not sounding unfriendly or pushy?

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I think that to find a way to achieve this you first need to understand why it is that people find fast talking to be unfriendly.

From what I gather it seems that you did not give these people enough time to finish a sentence. This is a problem because people need to feel heard in a conversation. If they feel like you never heard what they said then they might feel like it would be unfair if they listened closely to what you have to say.

Me and a friend of mine did this exercise a while ago, where before answering to each other we tested at least 3 different responses in our head. Sure it was a slow conversation, but it was also much more personal and attentive. This is because our mind cannot process new information instantly, it takes some time. When you answer instantly, you are not actually responding to the person speaking to you, but to a pre-conceived idea of what they might say. And people pick up on that.

You would be surprised at how much of a delay humans usually allow before anticipating a response. After that they probably wouldn't mind if your response would be at a fast paced form.

I would recommend repeating whatever is said to you quickly in your head before answering. That would go a long way to make you seem more kind and accepting.

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Some things that generally make people feel welcome to talk to you that you could apply:

  • Smiling. A real smile. It communicates that you are friendly, available to be interacted with and not in a negative mood.
  • Use a friendly/amicable tone. It makes people feel like they can talk to you and you’re not trying to shut down human interaction.
  • Make eye contact. This also shows people that you’re not so busy you can’t talk to them.

It doesn’t really matter how fast you talk, as long as you appear friendly.

In general I do these things and people react positively. When I don’t want to talk to people (e.g. before an quiz or exam) either I avoid doing them or just smile briefly, say “hi” and turn my attention back to what I was doing.

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