Do You Hear Me Now?
By Barbara A. Besteni
Throughout our lives, we often hear sayings such as “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” “Silence is golden” and “God gave you two ears and one mouth. So, listen twice as much as you speak.”
But how often do we take these saying to heart instead of just dismissing them as cliches?Take the one about sticks and stones, for example. Over 40 years after I first heard it, that saying pops into my head whenever someone utters an unkind word to me. If find myself magically transported through time to Sister Agnes’ 4th grade class in Brooklyn, and I’m once again an 8-year-old crying because my best friend just called me stupid.Today, 1300 miles and decades later, no matter how hard I try to remember that “words will never hurt me,” they still do.
Words are the most powerful weapons we have. The pen is mightier than the sword.
In fact, the wounds that words inflict fester long after the scars of an 8-year-old falling off the monkey bars have faded into the wrinkles of his mid 80s.
Why do you say to your significant other “You never help me around the house!” when what you’re really trying to say is … “I wish you would appreciate the things I do.” Why do you call the cashier at the department store an “idiot” when you wish you could say what’s really on your mind. “Look, my boss just gave credit for something I did to someone else. My car needs new tires and I don’t know how I’m going to pay for them and to top it all off, just before I left the house my dog pooped on the carpet and I stepped in it.”
Saying what we mean can accomplish so much more than merely screaming out in frustration.And if someone lashes out at you, try reading between the lines instead of lashing back in a knee-jerk reaction.
Silence is the most important part of communication. Think of the people you consider to be good communicators. You may be surprised when you realize that they say very little.
A few years ago, I attended a wedding reception and was seated at a table full of strangers. There I met someone who to this day I consider one of the best conversationalists I’ve ever met. This person and I bonded immediately.
It wasn’t until a few days after the reception that I realized I knew practically nothing about him. You see, while I was busy chatting away, he listened intently to what I was saying. He spoke very little but he asked a lot of questions that showed me he was interested in me.
He clearly knew the reason God had given him two ears and one mouth. Thanks to that, we’ve been friends ever since.
Next time you’re at a loss for words, remember that the most effective response is often saying nothing at all.
Silence is indeed golden.