Don’t Speak!

4 Nov

Several days ago I was having a conversation with my friend, Inspirational Music Artist Carmen Calhoun. She made a comment about something and I didn’t respond. I am a talker and people get used to me having a thought or opinion, so when I didn’t speak, she questioned me about my thoughts. “I have nothing to say,” I told her. It was the truth. My mind did not provide me with any feedback for her conversation. “Okay,” she replied and we left it like that.

A couple of days later when I was interviewing her for my Blog Talk Radio Show, “The Lit Fest Lounge,” she brought up the fact that I taught her through that conversation that she didn’t always have to speak. Her admitted lesson reminded me of something that I have been trying to master for well over a decade: not speaking.

It is not about never speaking or not having a voice, but about being intentional when you use your voice and being quiet until the right time to speak comes. So many of us operate at extremes, either never speaking or always talking. We must learn the beauty of silence as well as the importance of sound.

Many years ago I attended this closed group meeting. I was one of only three women at the meeting, all other attendees were men. A discussion topic was thrown on the table and the men began rambling, each speaking their thoughts, all trying to outdo the next. At one point in the discussion, the group’s leader noticed that the women weren’t saying anything. One of the women had already excused herself and only two of us remained. The leader offered us a turn to speak, but we both declined. For me, I was taking everything in and not ready to say anything. I wanted to hear everyone’s side, get a full and complete understanding of the conversation before I interjected with my thoughts. So, the men kept going, back and forth, continuously talking in circles around each other. Nothing was really being accomplished.

Finally, I raised my hand. Having heard all sides and arguments, I felt as if I had a good comprehension of the topic and was now ready to let my voice be heard. Noticing I had something to say, I was immediately given the floor and allowed to express myself without interruption. Until this day, I cannot not tell you what I said, but whatever it was, it completely changed the direction and flow of the discussion. From that point on and until the end of the meeting, all ideas spoken by the men started off with, “I agree with A’ndrea…” or “Like A’ndrea said…” Not only was my input most valued by the group, but most heard. Because I had waited in silence, two things occurred. One, I was able to organize my thoughts and ideas in a manner that best addressed the topic and two, the group was more willing to listen to me because I had built up anticipation for my response.

This same scenario has actually happened to me more than once, confirming for me the importance of being silent.

After that particular meeting, one of the men actually came up to me and made a comment about him being surprised by my comment/intelligence. What? Okay, that’s a completely different blog!

But the point is this: there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes). When you speak all of the time, people begin to devalue your words and thoughts. Coming from the psychology/counseling field, I thought I always had to say something smart and so often I spoke even if I really didn’t know what to say. I am forced to learn the lesson over and over again to be intentional with my voice, to speak only when ready and in the right timing.

The next time an important matter comes up try this: Don’t speak! Just let the situation marinate a little. Take the time to let it swirl in your thoughts, wander around your brain, and pull upon your heart-strings. Then after careful consideration, speak only when you are positively sure that it is now that you must be heard; and you will be.

One Response to “Don’t Speak!”

  1. Abigail-Madison Chase November 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    I totally agree being silent lets you see the world from a whole new vantage point. I remember the movie and bok What the deaf man heard. The boy was thought deaf and soon became a man. He was not deaf and he knew a lot of secrets.

    Sometime in life we must remain silent to hear what is really going on.

    GReat post as always

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