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Friday, June 3, 2011

The gift of keeping quiet

We live in a society where assertiveness is praised as a trait of the strong. If you don't speak up, you may not count. Statements like, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" paint a clear picture of what it's all about: the bigger a talker you are, the more people will consider your opinion. That being said, it is rather disheartening to see what this mindset has brought about. Some people cannot seem to keep quiet. We have all encountered these characters in meetings, in classes, at parties, and in clubs: people who always run their mouth, whether it is appropriate or not. It is as if they are afraid of silence, or as if they need to convince themselves of what they say.

Sometimes, when I hear people talk for a long time, I wonder if they don't get tired of the sound of their own voice, and if they really think they entice their audience so much that they can go on and on the way they do. It is known that the attention span of an average listener is about 8 minutes. After that timespan the mind of even the most devoted audience member starts to wander. Speakers with some degree of emotional intelligence should consider this and keep their message as short and sweet as possible.

Unfortunately, some people are so self-indulged, that they love to hear themselves. They may be burdened by an oversized ego, and have not yet figured out how to reduce it. Yet, when we talk all the time, we don't learn others' perspectives, and more importantly, we are not as well-liked as we may think. People get tired of listening all the time and they may start avoiding those who talk too much. They quickly figure out who speaks effectively, and who is just full of empty words. Personally, I feel that there is no need to say anything if it is not meaningful. And if you don't have anything meaningful to say, the best gift to give yourself and those around you is to simply keep quiet.

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