permission to learn::MOUTH ALMIGHTY! (5)

>> June 1, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

the teacher complex
Sometimes we’re so busy thinking about how to change the people around us, that we forget to look out how we need to be changed. I have a problem with this. My mind is often so full of what I could teach someone, if they’d just listen to me, that I’m in danger of missing a chance to learn. I perseverate sometimes, creating elaborate, eloquent, and ego-shredding tongue-lashings in my head.

Seriously, sometimes I lose sleep thinking of things I would say to someone if I had the chance. If nothing else, I get to work on perfecting one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned in life—keeping my mouth shut!

And that’s no small thing, really.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we talk. I heard a public speaker excusing himself recently, saying that he was given the “gift” of public speaking but not of listening. Hogwash! How can a man be an effective communicator without listening to, and learning from, the people he wishes to reach? Whether a person is gifted with public speaking skills or not, talking too much is a disease (and sometimes, I think, an epidemic).

No really, you're thinking, I have something people should hear! And it may very well be true, but all in the appropriate time. If people aren’t asking for it, guess what? They’re probably not listening to you anyway! Not only will you be flapping your lips in the wind, but as long as your mouth is open and something is coming out, your ears are closed and so is your chance to learn something.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with an urge to share your thoughts as long as you don’t victimize unwilling listeners: just start a blog! ☺

If you ever find yourself feeling like no one listens to you enough, there’s a chance you talk too much. Think about your conversations with people: is the amount of information shared more about you and your life, or more about them? A person who talks about themselves in conversation is dull company indeed, while a person who asks about others is considered a brilliant conversationalist.

You can’t go wrong if you commit yourself to asking lots of questions about someone else and not saying anything about yourself until your asked. If the person you’re talking to never asks about you, trust me, it’s not worth sharing yourself with them! Maybe they just need someone to listen to them, and you’re that person, or maybe they are narcissists, or just haven’t learned the art of brilliant conversation.

You might be thinking, I don’t talk about myself, I talk about other people. Ummm, let’s not even go there!

Here’s another good reason to hold your tongue: quiet people seem smarter. If you’re not convinced, open up your Google browser and type in “quiet people smart”. You’ll be surprised how many links pop up! Quiet people definitely give an impression of being smarter.

Whatever the truth is, I bet they take in more of what goes on around them, and therefore have more learning opportunities!

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28
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