Simply By Keeping My Mouth Shut

Ink on scrap paper – Words: Seneca

I like the way Seneca compares interactions and conversations to seasons. It reminds us about the ebb and flow of talking to people. Sometimes there is a need for words, sometimes few words, and other times no words at all. Wisdom and great relationships are built on knowing the difference and WHEN to apply the proper season to things. It takes self restraint, situational awareness and patience to actually talk, talk little or not talk at all.

It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence

-Seneca

I have worked with all sides of the talking seasons. The over talker, the person who over shares, the weepers, the complainers, the cryers and the silent, stoic, and angry. There are those who won’t give an option, who do not know why they need an opinion, and those who have no opinion. There are the commanding, the demanding, the passive and the boisterous. There are people who know everything even about things they know nothing about. There are those who can turn any conversation into one about themselves by using the art of “I did that” snippets so that eventually everything has turned to be all about them. And there are the patient, the kind, the joyous and the brilliant. Mix all these people together and we all end up with our families, our friends, our colleagues and our community. There is no way of escaping or controlling them all, so our best plan is to learn to better control ourselves.

Being able to select the right words, the good words, the words that ask open ended questions and the words that shut things down is a skill to be mastered. And with that skill comes the ability to use and handle silence. More that the right words, the power of a properly utilized pause changes everything. Silence, it is a beautiful thing and a great gift. Silence allows us to think, ponder, gather our thoughts and contemplate what words to use next. Silence lets the other person know we are not going to speak as we are waiting for them to speak. We are not going to speak to allow them to think. And we are not going to speak because there is no need, everything has already been said. Silence.

To best use this incredible skill and gift, we must become comfortable with quiet, intentional and open ended moments. We cannot control people, we can control silence. Sometimes we need to talk and others need to listen. More often than not if we are quiet other people will talk and tell us what we want, need and hope to know. That cannot happen if we are always talking. As an extrovert who processes by talking, once I learned how to do this everything changed for me. Once I was comfortable with silence, amazing words, ideas and moments were built simply by keeping my mouth shut.

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