Time for another of the Life Lessons on my list. This probably doesn't qualify quite as an Exclamation Mark as it's still a lesson in process. It's something that I wish I practiced better than I do, even though by nature I'm a quiet person--and that is, talking less. I rarely regret the things I didn't say. On the other hand I've lost count of the times I've wished I could just press the "undo" button on words that have popped out of my mouth in the emotion of a moment.
And at times that others come to talk to me, why is it that I think that I have to talk so much? Usually people already know the answers to their dilemmas. Talking it out helps them to realize that--if only the listener focuses on helping them think things through.
A professional coach once told me that she had the letters W A I T on the wall of her office, strategically placed so that she'd see them behind the person she was meeting with. The letters stood for:
I now have my own set of these letters, carved in wood, and given to me by my friend Jane, for Christmas. They stand in a window in our family room, where I look at them often in the hope that their message will sink in.
One tip I've found that helps me stop talking and listen, is focusing on my breathing. It helps me relax, stop thinking of what "I" have to say, and listen to understand.
I think back often to conversations with my father, where he was combative and provocative. The two ways I typically reacted were withdrawing in frustration, or arguing back, with disdain for his point of view.
How I wish that I could go back in time and break the pattern. If I could, I would answer his questions with my own. I would hear him out and try to understand his point of view. One of my deepest regrets is knowing that probably not one person on earth ever fully understood or knew him. I had the chance. I missed it with him, but it isn't too late with the people still in my life.
It is a gift to truly know someone else as well as you can, and the only way to do so is to listen.
And at the very least, if you are not so outspoken people think you are far wiser than you actually are!