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Spargett's avatar

Why do people feel the need to think out loud?

Asked by Spargett (5343 points ) December 16th, 2008 from iPhone

It’s so inappropriate on top of creepy with a massive side of unessesary.

It’s rude in public and just as pointless when you’re alone.

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29 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

It helps me think. Really. It helps to hear what is being said in a way that mentally saying it doesn’t do. We all process information differently and clearly, you do fine listening to your own thoughts, but some of us need to say and hear things.

If, for instance, I’m trying to learn some Czech, I can mentally say, “Pivo – Beer, Beer – Pivo” all I want, but if I actually say (and hear), “Beer is Pivo. Pivo, prosim!” I will remember it much, much better. Of course, this is true with many things—not just learning language.

It is, in point of fact, not rude to talk to yourself. Awkward? Yes. Rude? No. Similarly, it is not pointless. You actually process the information differently if you say it and hear it instead of just thinking it.

funkdaddy's avatar

For some reason when I’m doing math in my head, it’s easier to recall the last number if I’m whispering it so I can hear it. It makes it easier to keep my place in whatever I’m working on… so maybe

onetwentynine plus eighteen iiiiiiis onethirtyseven onefortyseven divided by three iiiiiiis fiftyminusone fortynine go

It’s like an intermediary that helps me keep track of my place. I never thought of it as rude and honestly unless you’re watching me I don’t think you’d ever know it was going on.

Out of curiosity, why do you think it’s rude? Is it just pointless noise like if someone was humming a tune right beside you, or something more than that?

Les's avatar

OK. I don’t do it in public, but I will talk to myself at home. I live alone. Sometimes, you just need to talk. I just traveled around New Zealand by myself, and I can now understand how homeless people and panhandlers start to mumble and talk to themselves. Try going for a week without saying a word other than the occasional order from a menu or “Thank-you”. Talking to yourself when you get home at night can help it, a bit.

dynamicduo's avatar

Wow, you and my viewpoints on this issue are completely different. I don’t see it as inappropriate or creepy or unnecessary or rude or pointless. In fact, and I don’t mean this offensively, I would say your presumptuous attitude is more rude than thinking out loud is. Not everyone’s brains work in the same way. Some people cannot conceptualize things unless they verbally think it out. Others do not need to think out loud. Some people can visualize things crystal clearly in their mind (such as the layout of a house). Others cannot recall such detail. Our brains are very interesting organs and science hasn’t yet unraveled all of the mysteries that lie within. Suffice to say everyone’s brain is unique, even if it’s just a small difference from another, consequentially everyone’s behavior and ways of thinking are slightly different.

Sometimes I talk to myself, mostly cursing and expressing frustration though. My partner however thinks out loud but only at a mutter volume, and that annoys me just a bit because I don’t know if he’s talking to me or talking to himself. Part of it is my own desire for knowledge – I want to hear what my partner was thinking about to satisfy my curiosity. As the years go by though it’s becoming less of a thing I hate and more of a general quirk I accept in him.

Vincentt's avatar

You have no idea how often it has happened to me that I was asking a question (e.g. to a teacher), and then, while asking it, all of a sudden I understood the thing I was asking for help for.

Saying stuff aloud really helps finding answers.

cookieman's avatar

Talk out loud? Hell I sing out loud, talk back to the radio/iPod, talk at strangers through the car window, talk to the TV.

@Spargett: I’m afraid we would come to blows.

GAMBIT's avatar

If they didn’t think out loud they would probable join a message board site on the internet and ask questions.

tinyfaery's avatar

I sit way up in the front of my office; it’s a good 12ft to the next person. I do it all the time. If I’m upset I say fuck, if I can’t find something I ask myself, where is that. I think I’m an auditory learner. I can organize my thoughts when I hear the words.

bodyhead's avatar

If anyone says, “I’m just talking out loud”, punch them. They always talk out loud. I hate this mistake with a passion.

augustlan's avatar

The only time I’m annoyed by this is if I think the person is talking to me, repeatedly. Don’t you ever talk to yourself? I’d think we all do it from time to time.

bodyhead's avatar

Really, I do talk to myself. If someone says something about it, I just politely ask them to stop interrupting. I’m obviously having a conversation.

Spargett's avatar

Hah, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. This question was inspired within the context of riding the MUNI in SF and ghetto’s constantly just talking, talking, talking to themselves with their foreheads pressed against the glass.

Its not that they’re crazy or anything, they just never stop talking to themselves. It drives me nuts.

Nimis's avatar

I don’t think those people can help it. =(

tinyfaery's avatar

What are ghettos in this reference? Chances are if these people non-stop talk to themselves, they have psych problems.

Les's avatar

What about the people who sing along with their CD or MP3 players?! Those people are my favorite!

bodyhead's avatar

I’m not claiming to not have any psych problems. Someone could probably fill a book with my case study.

Spargett, I’m not offended. I’m with these guys in that some things seem easier if you talk them out.

I do, however, know that there is a time and place for this behavior and I don’t go all crazy talking to myself in the library, bathroom, classroom, etc.

dynamicduo's avatar

I’m a sing-a-longer, Les. I love doing it, and I don’t care what anyone thinks of me for doing so cause I’m just so happy singing and drumming along to the music to give a hoot!

Les's avatar

@dynamic: Even when you’re listening to headphones? That’s what I mean. No one else can hear the music but you…

dynamicduo's avatar

Yeah with headphones! I’ll even dance along with the beat. Back when I took the bus I did both all the time. It’s a good way to burn an extra few calories, and in wintertime it makes waiting for the bus in the cold and wind much less painful – whether it simply takes your mind off the cold or keeps your blood flowing.

blakemasnor's avatar

When I say what I’m thinking or I feel like I don’t have to concentrate on that particular thing anymore, and can move to the next thing. It also helps people around you to know where you are at in thought, or what you need to do next so they can aid you

bodyhead's avatar

The only time I really cannot help it and sometimes don’t even notice it is when I’m running over conversations in my mind. I find that sometimes I’ll speak my part in the conversation as I run back through it in my mind. I guess that’s weird.

nebule's avatar

I don’t think i know or have heard anyone think out loud…. what do they do…. just talk…out loud? my thoughts go through my head so fast i don’t think i could think out loud… or is that the point? you think out loud in order to slow down…

I’m thinking now that maybe i should try it…it might be fun…??? Or i might just ending up irritating people on here…. is all this <<<<< classed as thinking out loud too???

samaurikitten's avatar

By speaking to yourself, you are accessing a different area of your brain. Depending on who you are and ones individual brain chemistry, it can aide in clarity, memory recall, and memorization. It’s kinda like when you do a crossword puzzle and you read the clue and dont know the answer….then, you hand it off to a friend who reads it aloud…and all of a sudden you know. The brain could only retrieve the info via the auditory system….none the less…weird!

wilson_and_me's avatar

I find that thinking out loud helps me process better. I also read that thinking out loud accesses a different part of your brain. I think it is genetic. My two-year-old granddaughter talks to herself a lot. She even reprimands herself when she is doing something she knows she isn’t supposed to be doing. “Lilly, don’t go up the stairs,” as she is going up them. :) I found this site because I was picked on by a coworker this morning for processing out loud at my computer (he doesn’t even work in this office) and I needed to read posts from other people who process out loud. Thanks.

augustlan's avatar

@wilson_and_me Welcome to Fluther! Come on in and process out loud as much as you like. :)

Mamamia's avatar

An occasional comment is substantially different than 8+ hours per day of CONSTANTLY describing in detail what you are doing, and doing any math calculations out-loud, reading & re-reading your to-do list outload, discussing decisions with yourself out-load, commenting on many negative tangents to whatever you are working on, bragging to yourself about how hard you work, and how you “DO it all”, and putting down others not in the room at the time for not being as perfect as you are and….

This is self centered, passive aggressive narcissitic bullying. You might just get 3 times the work done if you held your tongue, and you will be amazed at the amount of respect you could earn by JUST ceasing your poor me martyrdom tirades.

Mamamia's avatar

I understand auditory learning; I am also an auditory learner. That is precisely why the constant blithering is so obnoxious. I do not need to learn all of your minutia.

Similarly, there are individuals that feel most creative drunk or stoned, and that is not appropriate office behavior either. Others work best in their pajamas…

There is a difference between whispering, or an occassional comment, but if you find you are also the individual that sets numerous loud alarms for yourself, and has your phone turned up to the loudest and longest ring, and anything and everything you say can be heard 40 feet away, constantly, even over normal office noice…

…maybe have your hearing checked?
...tape record yourself, and see if you can be productive when it is played back.
...re-evaluate whether you want all of your co-workers knowing all the minutia, maybe you will be easier to replace as everyone in the office knows exactly what your job is.

pterodactylover808's avatar

Its a habit… I do it when I’m having a hard time focusing because even if I’m not comprehending it I can recall it later somehow.

peacecat's avatar

At work we have no doors and my assistant is driving us all crazy. He smells horrible on most days. He has all the body functions and is not affraid to express them when ever the mood stricks him. He listens to church music all day or will play the back street boys same CD for 10 straight hours – over and over again and again. Even better is when he starts singing along at the top of his voice. He talks to his wife on the phone (yes Married) and makes love noises and talks about private bedroom issues. He pulls and picks at his bottom all day. If you are in a conversation in your office with someone he will come in and just stand like he wants to be involved in the conversation or will interupt and start answering questions that he was not asked. Being a woman I just do not know what the polite thing to say would be. I have never in my 40+ years seen anyone behave so poorly in an office. I do not want to be as rude as he is and find it difficult to address personal issues that I would have thought his mother would have handled. Any suggestions???

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