HP made a New Years Resolution several years ago to speak less; making him think more, before he spoke. I have tried many times to figure out how to express this resolution, but I keep coming up with so many ways that it affects our lives.
1) Speaking less means listening more
2) Thinking before we speak means we say things (hopefully) that are actually important
3) Analyse/Evaluate what others are saying (i.e. actually actively listening)
4) Making sure value is added to the conversation either by active listening or thoughtful speaking
Frequently I listen to conversations where the person is speaking just to hear themselves speak. I notice this when they ramble, or pretend they know what they are talking about, when they really have no idea. Why, why do they (I) do this? After a while people (not just me) tune them out. We roll our eyes when we see them start to open their mouth. We look for ways to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible.
I’m sure people feel this way about me, just as I feel this way about some other people.
In the last year I have been making a point to stop and think before I say something. (I still fail miserably – I’m far from perfect.) I usually ask myself one question: how does what I want to say add value to the current conversation? If it doesn’t, I keep my mouth closed. If it does add value, I look for the right opportunity to say it. Sometimes that opportunity never presents itself – and that is ok.
This resolution (to speak less) isn’t just about participating in conversations though. It’s also about quick little comments that add up to a whole lot of pain if we aren’t careful. Comments like: you aren’t helping, or you missed a spot, or why can’t you just… While these comments may be true – do they add value? Do they really help the situation? Or do they tear down that person, and tear them down some more. All of those negative comments can, and will, add up until the person falls into the trap of negative self-talk.
I need to change those negative comments into positive/helpful/uplifting ones. I still need to speak the truth, but in a way that adds value, not destroys. This applies to what I say to others AND what I say to myself. We often hinder ourselves by negative self-talk which can lead to sadness and sometimes depression.
Stop the negative self-talk, and frankly all negative talk, and make sure you add value to the conversation.
Bottom line is: Add value by listening actively and speaking thoughtfully.