“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Jalal ad–Din Muhammad Rumi
I am not a yeller, I can be a loud talker, at least according to my children, but I don’t like to yell. I am also Southern so I talk slowwwwwwww and very deliberately. I choose my words carefully and deliver them with pause and consideration. Unfortunately so much pause at times that people, namely my wife, feel the need to finish not only my sentences but my thoughts as well. After 32 years of marriage we are still working on that little annoying trait.
Again, I am not a yeller, I do get mad, but I typically wear my emotions on my face. As my oldest used to tell me, “I would rather you just yell at me and get it over with then give me that look.” I learned that “look” from my mother. I discovered, at least for me, that “look” stayed with me longer than any words I ever heard her utter.
I adhere to the simple thought that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. But there are some out there that simply love the sound of their own voice and their words contain little or no thought about how they may affect whoever is in earshot of them. I find this nasty habit, which I refer to as diarrhea of the mouth, unbearable which is why I prefer the company of my dogs more than some people at times.
When I was growing-up my parents put me in social settings with adults that required I have some intellectual ability to speak and most importantly, speak clearly. Any position or opinion I might have proclaimed had to be defended. I couldn’t simply make some off the cuff statement and walk away. If I was going to use words to make a point I had better a) use the right words b) be able to articulate the words and the idea and c) be prepared to defend them. Both of my parents are smart and well read, and tangling with either of them in a battle of wits was at best a challenge and still is to this day.
My children went through the same process that my parents put me through. Dinner at the dinner table was not optional even if it meant we didn’t eat until eight o’clock at night. This was our time to talk. For my wife and I to be nosey and for our children to not only defend their actions but their thoughts and opinions. I realize that I am a little biased, but we raised smart, and well spoken children. And what I understood then and have been able to confirm based on my kids success and accomplishments is that the ability to communicate, both artfully and capably, will take you further than most would ever imagine.
The ability to speak, the skill of communicating has become a lost art filled with incomplete sentences, too many adjectives, abbreviations and imoges. People no longer raise their words. Points are made with more volume and less reasoning. Rather than articulating a response we are more likely to hear “That’s stupid” or “You’re an idiot” from the younger set. Real conversation stoppers.
If you are the parent or the grandparent of a young person or child, engage them and encourage them to speak. Encourage them to articulate their ideas and opinions. Challenge them to understand what is going on in the world beyond their smart phones. Help them expand their vocabulary by reading and exploring. Sadly, newspapers or news magazines are no longer fixtures in households as they were in mine but you can print articles out so that they can see words on paper rather than the distraction of a computer screen. Let’s save the art of communicating, it truly is an art worthy of saving.