My grandma always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” Easier said than done granny, why is that? Emotions are a funny thing, and some people can’t control them. No matter what, they say it comes out rude and off-putting. Every conversation seems to be negative, depressing, or self-centered. Some people have learned to control their verbal output. They are masters at turning their dialog into a type of poetic rhetoric. I have the pleasure of knowing a few people like this. I am in awe of their abilities and can listen to them for hours. It seems that nothing will rattle them. They can talk their way out of a wet paper bag without offending anyone, turn their enemies into friends, and calm a crowd of angry mobsters into purring kittens. Then there’s the group in the middle, which is where most people fall. These people do reasonably well communicating, but when pushed over the emotional edge, the flood gates open, and its a verbal volcano. When our mouth is controlled by the mind, and the mind is controlled by our emotions, things can get crazy.
So, when do we learn how to speak to other people? Do we pick up our essential conversational traits from our parents? Our teachers? Our friends? Are we born with an innate ability to know when and how to communicate, or is it an ongoing learning process? Once we figure it out, where do we go from there? Communication is the key for the world to function correctly. If we are ineffective communicators or unwilling to listen to the other person’s views (i.e., keeping your mouth shut long enough to hear what someone is saying), how do we expect anyone else to listen to us? Have you ever tried to listen when your mouth is running? It’s virtually impossible.
I know for myself, I continue to work on my communication skills and have learned a lot about managing my flapper over the years. I think fast; therefore, I speak quickly. This has made it difficult to listen to others, so I have taken several classes on effective communication learning the underlying philosophy of communicating with people. As long as I remember, there is always room for improvement. I feel I am on the right track.
But what happens when the person you are speaking with isn’t giving you the same respect? What do you do when the other person or person(s) don’t know when to keep their mouth shut? What are we supposed to do? Do we keep our ears open and mouth closed to keep the peace? Or, are we allowed to have an opinion and say what’s on our mind? How is a person to know the difference between standing up for yourself and when to be a good listener?
I like to think that you should always start with your listening skills first. Evaluate the conversation and decide if you know enough about the topic to debate it or nod in agreement and let the person drown on. You can walk away from a conversation if you don’t like what was said instead of creating a scene.
There are times when people will be going on and on about something that you know is obsessive or destructive behavior. You will need to decide if you are willing to help that person regardless of the backlash that may come your way. As long as you do it in a caring manner, you should be fine. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut.
If your employer asks you to do something within your job description, keep your mouth shut and do your damn job. If your employer is abusing you, then by all means, please speak up. Along the same lines, if your parent(s) ask you to do something, my opinion is still the same. Sorry kids, this is part of growing up and learning to be responsible.
When having conversations with loved ones and friends, you will have to use a bit more discretion. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut so that you won’t hurt their feelings might be a good thing. Remember being a friend that is open and honest and tells them the truth is also essential. In this, make sure the words that come out of your mouth are kind.
I could continue to write a million different scenarios. But, what is most important for everyone is to look within themselves first. Keep better control of your own emotions. Then listen with both ears while keeping your mouth shut. Evaluate the conversation before responding and then decide if it is worth your energy. Sometimes silence can be ten times more powerful than words.
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