I talk… A lot. I don’t mean “oh he ‘talks’” as in gossip. I just generally use a lot of words each day and I talk! A lot! I bet you do too. Some of us talk more than others. I get to communicate regularly to an audience so I even get paid to talk, sometimes. When I was in college, learning to study Scripture and preach it to an audience I learned the power of words and how important they are. Words can give life or destroy life. Words can help you understand someone. That’s why it’s hard when our 6 week old daughter is crying… We don’t understand since she can’t use words yet.
How to properly use words
When you think about how often words leave your mouth, you would be wise to think more intently on how you use them right? I never thought so until some reflection.
To use words properly we need to be careful in how we choose them. I’m resonate with the Enneagram 8 = The Challenger. Most 8’s are instinctual. That’s great in “live or die” situations but for the less dramatic day to day, it’s not that great at times. Being instinctual means I will allow words to leave my mouth even before I register what I’m saying. You can imagine how colorful that can get… This is why I must be so intentional about the words I use, especially when angry.
So, to use words properly = be choosy about your word choices. Choose the right words that err on the side of life giving. Be so choosy about what you say to other people. Instead of proving your point, prove your love. Instead of convincing, show compassion. You see the difference? It’s hard for me to remember when tension arises but that’s the moment when the stakes are highest. How do you master that? Here’s what I’m learning…
Pro Tip: Speak Less, seriously
That’s my pro tip… Not that I’m a pro; far from it but I’m learning. To be more choosy about the words I use, I must choose to NOT speak right away. Those words are always going to be instinctual and life draining. But if I just choose to shut my enormous mouth for a few seconds, I can get my mind and heart around what I want to relay. Even more, I can allow logic to guide my word choice instead of instinct.
You know what else speaking less does? Speaking less makes me a better listener. Maybe it can do the same for you as well. If you want to know if you’re a good listener, just count the amount of time you talk vs the other person. Or, even better, when you walk away from any conversation try and remember what the other person discussed. If you can only recount your discussion, you talked too much. And you didn’t listen.
I can’t count the times my wife and I will be in the same conversation and she calls it back later and I have no idea what she’s talking about… She listens WAY BETTER than me. She uses WAY LESS words than me. And for that reason, she’s a better listener.
So speak less, seriously. You’re not choosing to stay silent. You’re just choosing to actually think before speaking. Or to listen before speaking. For me, who talks a LOT, this is a life giving and life altering task. And the payoff is so sweet!