Have you ever heard of the acronym W.A.I.T.?
It stands for “Why Am I Talking?” and humourously implies that there are certain times when we may want to talk, but it may be better not to.
The acronym encourages us to wait before we speak, to look at the reason for why we want to say what we want to say, and then decide if it is beneficial to say after all. I was taught this acronym in life coaching class since it is so important for a life coach to really listen to the person who is being coached and not interject a lot with his/her own thoughts and opinions.
The Value of Words
That doesn’t mean that in all circumstances speaking is always the wrong choice–our words are an important vehicle to encourage others, put truth in love out there, and make a difference in this world. Children –as well as the rest of us– crave to hear words of affirmation and conversation that transmit messages such as “I like you”, “I think you have value”, etc.
As a person who has struggled a lot with shyness, I had to learn over time to speak up a bit more because there are times when my words can and should add value to a conversation or situation. But now that I often feel more comfortable in social situations, I can be as guilty as the next person of talking more than I should.
Sometimes we just want to hear ourselves and our own opinions… way too much!
The Value of Silence
Why do some monks choose to take vows of silence and quietly go about their tasks all day long? Although this is extreme and probably not advisable for you and me (unless we decide to go on a silent retreat at a monastery or similar place away from our responsibilities for a bit) we certainly can find value –and even more enjoyment of life– in talking less at times.
What value might there be in choosing to talk less?
1. Talking less can help us to listen to people better and really hear what they are saying.
The more fully we hear what people say, the more people feel heard– and the more they believe that their thoughts and opinions are valued by us. When we always rush into a conversation to share our two cents –our opinions or stories from our own lives–people may feel that we don’t really treasure what they have to say and therefore that we don’t really treasure who they are.
So, when in a conversation, try to practice really listening to the other person, perhaps asking questions to draw out more from them, and then simply listen some more. You might be surprised at the benefits to your relationships.
2. Talking less means we are less likely to hurt others with angry or sarcastic words or to annoy them with constant chatter.
Our words are really, really important and can greatly effect others’ lives for good or not. So it’s so important to think about what we want to say before we say it, and sometimes swallow our negative words and decide to pray instead. This is easier said than done, but with practice and lots of God’s help, over time we can get better at it.
There are for sure times when it is really important to speak up and tell someone the truth in love that they need to hear, but it’s probably not always the first thing that pops into our head 🙂
So if you have a critical thought running through your head, perhaps you can think of something more uplifting to say instead, and then maybe you could bring up hard truths later when you have thought more about it and can speak more kindly.
3. Talking less may help us notice the amazing wonders around us that we usually pass by with barely a glance.
Stopping at times throughout the day to admire the “view”– whether that is of a beautiful city-scape, a cute toddler playing with her toys, or just a pretty plant on the table–helps us to notice and “receive” the many gifts we’ve been given but often fail to appreciate.
At times we just need to break away from our busyness, open our eyes and ears and purposely look and listen to what’s around us (and maybe use our other senses, too, like smell). Doing this can help us gain perspective on our lives and fill our hearts with gratitude for all we have –as well as increase our enjoyment in what we already have.
4. Talking less may help us better sense what God may be saying to us.
God loves to hear our prayers. He wants us to come to Him like a child and tell him about all the little things on our minds. He wants to hear everything–nothing is too small. But God also wants us to quiet ourselves down at times so He can gently encourage us with his still, quiet voice.
It isn’t necessarily an audible voice, but God can speak in so many different ways –through other people, through things that happen, through the Bible, through our own (good and true) thoughts, as well as many other ways. And though it’s a journey to become aware of His voice–I’m on that journey, as well– it is no doubt well worth it.
So, what can you do this week to speak less and listen more?
What can you do to encourage another person by deeply listening and asking questions to draw them out?
Or to quietly notice more of what’s around you and appreciate all you have?
Or to perhaps become more aware of what God is saying to you?
Got any ideas to share with others? I’d be glad for you to write them in comments below.