Talking to one’s self has been said to be normal and even healthy. But when we get caught doing so, it’s still embarrassing.
Mitch thought he was alone. He was sitting in his office, reliving an unpleasant exchange he had just had with a colleague. The intensity of the conversation had really gotten to Mitch, and he was replaying it aloud, arms flailing and fingers pointing as he yelled under his breath. “No, you’re the one who’s out of line, man! You said you would pay for the donuts, and then I’m left stand there like a penniless fool. You call yourself a friend, but you’re nothing but a dirty, rotten, good-for-nothing—”
And that’s when it happened. Mitch looked over and several co-workers were peering into the office, and they looked somewhat concerned. Samantha’s first thought was that Mitch was mentally unstable. Greg just thought it was funny, and was snickering that he had caught Mitch in an embarrassing moment. Deb just felt sorry for Mitch, pegging him as a sad individual.
It is possible to quickly spin talking to yourself into something more sane.
Mitch could just say “screw it”, admit the truth that he was talking aloud to himself, and give some sort of explanation trying to rationalize why he was doing so… Or, he could think on his feet and use one of these other methods to lie his way out of the situation.
- By far the easiest way to get one’s self out of this situation is to pretend like you have an ear bud in and are in fact talking to someone. Mitch could put his hand to his least visible ear, mouth to the group “I’m in the middle of something!” and continue his wild rant.
- Likewise, Mitch could pretend that he had been speaking to someone on speaker phone, but the connection was lost at the most inopportune of times. He could pause, walk over to his phone, and say “Hello? Aaron? Aaron are you still there?” After picking up the receive and banging on some keys to no avail, Mitch could pretend he had been hung up on.
- It’s actually pretty normal to talk aloud, and many studies have sited it as being healthy and good for cognitive function. Mitch could just yell to the group “Didn’t you see that MSNBC report? You’re supposed to talk aloud to release endorphins. It’s good for the brain!”
- He could also admit that he was talking to himself, but it was an attempt to learn lines for a play. “Oh, sorry guys, this show is in two weeks and I’m blanking on these lines. Ugh, I’m sure I look like an insane person to you right now, hahaha!”
- It may sound even worse, but to ignore the onlookers and continue talk to himself could be an interesting play. Whereas he had previously just been caught in an embarrassing moment, he has now turned the tables and completely confused the group, possibly to the point where they may give him the benefit of the doubt. If pressed later on, Mitch can then play dumb.
- Mitch could also try to sell the group on him being certifiably insane and earning everyone’s concern and pity by claiming that someone had been with him the entire time. “Devin was right there, sitting in that chair, guys! I’m not crazy! Couldn’t you hear him arguing back?” Is it worse to be thought of as a little cooky or someone who should be admitted to a mental hospital immediately?
- In a partial admission of being caught, Mitch could simply say it was a stress relieving technique or is part of a normal routine. “I’m honestly surprised this is the first time you caught me! I do this every day for fifteen minutes, doctor’s orders.”
- It’s unlikely to be bought, but Mitch could say he was trying to fool someone on the other side of the wall into believing he was in a heated discussion for some reason. “Oh, yeah, I was just messing with Alan. I thought he’d hear me and think my business lunch with his clients went haywire.”
In the end, owning up to talking to yourself, explaining the real reason why, and hoping it doesn’t happen again is probably the best way to deal with the situation.
There are other situations where getting caught is harmless. If you’re seen talking to yourself in your car nowadays, people would just assume you’re talking to someone on the phone through a hands-free device.
My Hot Take
I tend to verbalize a lot of unnecessary things for various reasons throughout the course of the day. Whether it’s talking out a work related problem while sitting at my desk, trying to recall a piece of information, or even something like rehearsing answers for an interview, it is far from abnormal for me to talk to myself. I don’t remember being caught doing so, but if I did, I would probably admit that I do it regularly and I don’t think it’s weird.