My mouth gets me into more trouble than any other hole in my body.
That’s the very first line in my book The Mouth Trap: the butt stops here! Thank goodness we only have one mouth. How many times have you wished that you didn’t say that, or didn’t eat or drink that?
I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason why we were made with one mouth and two ears, instead of the other way around. Maybe there’s a clue here to the ratio of use. What if, just for today, we listen more than we speak? How do you think you’d feel tonight when you go to bed?
We’ve been blessed with the precious gift of speech, but this gift (as with every gift) can be abused and come back to bite us. Balancing speaking and listening will serve you in great ways. I’m suggesting we use our mouths half as much as we use our ears (just for today).
Here are 6 benefits to speaking less and listening more. At the end of my blog, I’ll share how I stopped nagging as a young, single mom of three children ages 4, 9 and 12.
1. Accomplish more
As long as your goal is to make your world a better place, doing will always beat speaking unless you’re Oprah. When your focus switches from talking to doing a household chore, you’ll accomplish so much more. When you speak less, you naturally do more. If you could hush up for five minutes a day, in a month you’ll have given yourself two and a half hours of quiet action time. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, so is a hug, a home-cooked dinner, a clean bathroom, fresh laundry and a hundred other acts of love.
2. What’s important shows up
You’ve got a smart phone, so who’s the smartest, you or the phone? You’re the smart one if you limit your use to what serves you and uplifts you. Information overload created by the Internet is a choice. You get to decide how much of your time is going to be spent on the Internet or yakking on the phone. The next time you start to call someone, ask yourself, “Is this really important or will I be talking just to hear my own voice?” If it isn’t important or you miss hearing your voice, hang up and write a thank you note to someone you love and as you write, say the words out loud.
3. Reduces stress
Think of something you can do with your family, in silence. See what happens if you and your mate go for a walk without talking or watch the sunset without comment or eat a speechless meal. Terry and I play a card game with friends that involves dealing many different hands starting with each person getting one card up to one hand where each person gets 13 cards. One of the hands is declared a silent hand and no one is allowed to speak until the next deal. It always ends up in laughter and it’s usually a woman who breaks the silence!
Once I told my three bickering children that I wanted quiet. I said, “You can keep playing, but the first one who talks has to fold this load of clean clothes and put them away.” It was amazing how quietly they played, (one was cutting out pictures in a catalogue, one was playing with Legos and one was playing with her doll). After about five minutes of golden silence, the first sounds I heard were laughter and then whispering.
4. Learn valuable lessons
Really listening gives to the person speaking time to finish his or her thoughts and for you to learn from his or her perspective. Our friends and relatives are our teachers and those that seem to be the hardest ones to listen to are our greatest teachers with our biggest life lessons to learn. (Even if the lesson is that you don’t want to be like the person.)
5. Gain Respect
When you think before you speak, you allow what you say to be wise and not just thoughtless jabber. People will be more apt to listen to you if what comes out of your mouth has been through your mental laundry room. Let kindness and love prevail and hold your tongue (literally if it’ll shut you up) if you think something snarky or mean is going to come from using it.
6. Get divine guidance and know yourself better
All the benefits I’ve written about have to do with being quiet and listening to those out in your world, but there’s a whole world within you and when you become still, you’ll receive the wisdom you need at any given time. There is the divine voice that’s always broadcasting to you but you must be quiet to hear it.
“Be still and know mighty in the midst of you is God.”
When you’re writing, something very interesting will happen: you’ll be required to listen. In that silence you’ll hear what you really think and you’ll get to know yourself better. You will be with you throughout eternity and getting to know who you really are and what you think is probably the best benefit of listening.
I remember as a young, single mom with three children ages 4, 9 and 12, being sick of the sound of my voice at the end of the day. That’s when I came up with the Clutter Annihilation Game I offer in the House Fairy’s Super Snuggle Bunny Program. If you’d like to play this no nag game with your family, I’ll tell you all the details.