As a leader, you probably think you have the gift of gab. You love talking and believe your employees are enraptured with every word that rolls off your tongue. But you may not notice how they are desperately trying to get a word in during your monologue.

In other words, despite your perception, the reality may be that you can't help yourself from droning on and on about whatever it is you're talking about. 

What is the reason for your unwanted loquaciousness? "First, the very simple reason that all human beings have a hunger to be listened to. But second, because the process of talking about ourselves releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone," Mark Goulston, a business psychiatrist and author of Just Listen, writes in Harvard Business Review. "One of the reasons gabby people keep gabbing is because they become addicted to that pleasure."

Goulston says there are three stages of talking to other people: At first, you're relevant and succinct. Then, however, "you unconsciously discover that the more you talk, the more you feel relief," he writes. As you continue speaking, your stress melts away and you feel a release in your chest. During the second stage, when you feel that rush, you probably don't realize the other person has started to tune you out. The third stage is characterized by you realizing you've lost them, and trying to regain their interest. The result is that you start talking even more.

This is bad. You need to learn how to listen more and talk less. Goulston says most people are aware they talk too much, but the powerful rush of dopamine overrides the signals the other person is sending to you to let them get a word in.

Below, find out how you can make sure you're not talking everyone's ear off.

Green light, yellow light, red light.

Goulston writes that after his book Just Listen came out, his friend, the radio host Marty Nemko, told him he was disregarding his own advice and ignoring the signals that he was talking too much. Nemko then told him about a pet theory he calls the Traffic Light Rule, which he uses while talking to alpha personalities. Goulston checked himself and has implemented the conversational tool to help himself listen better.

"In the first 20 seconds of talking, your light is green: your listener is liking you, as long as your statement is relevant to the conversation and hopefully in service of the other person. But unless you are an extremely gifted raconteur, people who talk for more than roughly half minute at a time are boring and often perceived as too chatty," Goulston explains.

For the next 20 seconds, the light is yellow. You should wind down, or you run the risk of losing the other person's interest. When you hit 40 seconds, the light turns red."Yes, there's an occasional time you want to run that red light and keep talking, but the vast majority of the time, you'd better stop or you're in danger," he writes.

Find out why you won't stop talking.

Nemko advised Goulston that the Traffic Light Rule is only the first step to getting over your addiction to talking. You need to get to the root cause of why you can't keep from flapping your gums. What is the underlying motivation for your continued speech? Are you talking through your thought process? Are you typically secluded during the day so you just can't help wanting to be the star when you have an audience? "Whatever the cause, filibustering is usually a conversational turn-off, and may result in both [you and the other person] deteriorating into alternating monologues," Goulston writes. "And that certainly will do little to move the conversation or your relationship forward."

Talk less to impress.

Goulston says many people are verbose because they want to impress the other party or display their intelligence. But very smart people have the gift of explaining complex things in few words. "If this is the case for you, realize that continuing to talk will only cause the other person to be less impressed," he says.

The broken internal clock.

Nemko says that many motormouths "may not have a sense of the passage of time." If this sounds like you, you need to take a minute and figure out how you can fix your internal clock. Time yourself talking for 40 seconds and get in the habit of never going over 20. Start focusing on asking more questions and be inclusive. No one likes a showboat, so stop strutting your verbal stuff and start listening to others. All things considered, as a leader you learn more by listening to your employees, customers, and colleagues than you do by talking at them.