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After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…

After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…

We’ve been blessed with a very precious gift, my friends: the gift of talking. The gift of language. The gift of being able to express our feelings, emotions, ideas or plans into something called words. But, alas, as with every gift, overusing it may lead to unexpected results.

Speaking and listening in a balanced way are imperative in our world. The noise of useless words that many of us are throwing away in an attempt to get a grip on someone else’s attention, creates a thick fog that makes it really difficult to actually understand each other. Ironically, the more we talk, the less we’re able to communicate.

Read on about these 6 benefits of speaking less and listening more and improve the way you communicate with the world.

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Think Before You Speak

So obvious, yet so underused. Under the impulse of “taking the stage,” of speaking before the other one could make his moves, we often open our mouth without really knowing what we’re going to say. Sometimes we improvise and it may turn out right.  But most of the time, we’re just shouting randomly about a topic, without any quality contribution to the conversation. The result: no one really listen to us.

Take a deep breathe before you respond, no matter how “urgent” the answer may look. Think for a while. Keep in mind the thought that you really have has many options, not just one. Ponder and your answer will not only be well thought out but people will be more apt to listen.

Listen Before Jumping To Conclusions

Again, the “need for speed” of our current world often forces us to simplify our interactions, to the point where they become useless. Based on just a few words, or a few sentences, we often create a perspective on some thing or some person, which may simply be inaccurate because we didn’t take the time to actually listen.

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Really listening means not only giving to the other the time to finish his speech, but also the exercise of “borrowing” his perspective.  Listening means to actually  see things from their point of view.

Limit Yourself To What’s Important

The infamous “information overload” created by the internet revolution is not about the quantity of the information available out there. But merely about the relevance of that information. Every time you update your Facebook timeline, or you publish a blog post, or you simply open your mouth to say something, you’re adding up to this fog. Have you ever tried to contemplate if what you’re going to say is really that important? Sometimes, silence really IS golden..

Too often, the reason is that we’re talking is simply just to hear our voices, no matter if we do this out loud, by writing emails or updating our Twitter. Imagine how silent it would be out there if we could just limit ourselves only to what’s really important.

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Get To Know Others Better

And that means doing things together, not only talking about things together. Getting up from the couch and do a short team jog, watching the sunset together, silently, playing a game, or having a meal. All these are actions that, apart from the main benefit of enjoying life, have also a secondary, very important outcome: they help you understand other people better.

Create A Better Reality

When you speak less, you do more. It’s obvious. Your focus switches from talking to doing. While talking and expressing your feelings is important, ‘doing’ is equally important. If you could refrain yourself from talking for 5 minutes a day, in a month you will have gained 30 days x 5 minutes = 150 minutes, 2 and a half hours for yourself. What would you do with this time?

Whatever you want, of course. You can go to the gym, cook for your spouse, craft something in the garage, coach someone, help a neighbor, you name it. As long as your goal is to make the world a better place, doing will always beat speaking.

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Write More

It’s still a form of expressing yourself, but it has a few perks. If you write, you’re more accountable. Written words last more than spoken words. Also, you will clear your mind without the help of somebody else. Writing in a journal or blogging, as long as you follow the number one rule of this list, (“think before you do it”).

And when you’re writing, something very interesting will happen: you will be forced to “listen” to yourself. You will be exposed to your own thoughts and emotions. You will get to know yourself better. Or, to be more precise, you will start to discover who you are.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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