A good friend reminded me that these two words are spelled with the same letters. I had never noticed that. That struck me as interesting in that without heeding one of them, we are unable to effectively engage with the other. We cannot listen while we are talking. Oh, we may think we can talk over another in a heated conversation, but that simply is not possible. How many times do we witness politicians talking over one and other thus paying no attention to what each other has to say? The volume goes up almost in direct opposite proportion to the quality of the content. Some so-called political ‘debates’ are perfect examples.
Somewhere a long time ago, I heard from a wise person that we should be careful to use our ears twice as much as we use our mouths since that is why we have two of one and only one of the other. That is an admonishment worthy of remembering before we engage our mouth, but too many seem to pay little or no attention to the quality of their verbosity, only to the quantity and volume of same. Heated arguments are perfect examples, and both parties tend to regret having engaged in a heated argument.
There are times when silence is much more compelling than mere words. We are unaccustomed to silence in return for something we’ve uttered. That might well be the ultimate ‘put-down’ in any argument. Imagine that you have just ended a particularly voluable tirade when the other person simply refuses to engage any further, maybe shakes his or her head slightly and turns to walk away. That may well qualify as the ultimate response to the other side’s argument. The ultimate ‘put-down’.
Better that we hold our tongue when our temper threatens to take over for our brain. If that were up there with the Golden Rule, how much better would we get on with the others in our lives? How many times have we “won” an argument? In reality, simply engaging in an argument means that one or both participants have already lost. How much better might it be to simply say, “Let’s end this before we are sorry for what we said and come back to discuss our issues another day.” Maybe what we were fired up about will seem far less important with a little bit more thought.
When I thought about this as a blog topic, a picture of Ronald Reagan came to mind. I do not recall ever seeing him having the need to raise his voice, and yet I think of him as a consummate orator. He made his points and never once felt the need to raise his voice. That simply showed the class he possessed and the control of self he obviously exercised. If anything, the lack of added volume to his normal speaking voice served to amplify the importance, the value, of what he had to say.
And, imagine how angry an opponent might be who had made the error of ‘acting out’ in the face of calm and quiet from his opponent. He or she would be angry at self for having once again fallen into the trap he or she had set for self many times before. Those who rely on the volume of voice over the quality of content to win arguments are soon seen for exactly what they are: ignorant verbal bullies who know no better.
“Listen while silent”. Almost another Golden Rule.