The 8-Fold Path-Step 3: Be Brief


Today’s post and the next two posts are probably the most practical bits of advice I can offer on practicing silence every day. As you’ll see, “silence” doesn’t necessarily mean we’re silent.

Last week, in Step 2, I said we should avoid situations where we’re obligated to talk. I also noted this is often difficult to do. Today and in the next two posts, I’ll offer suggestions on what to do when we can’t avoid talking.

If I must talk, it’s best to be brief and to the point.

The older I get the more I’m convinced if we lived our lives by the Golden Rule there would be no more problems, no more turmoil, and no more angst. We would all experience the peace and tranquility we desire. And this applies to talking.

It is our nature to want to be the center of attention. Because, when we are, we feel important. We feel validated. We feel liked. And who doesn’t want to feel important, validated, and liked?

Unfortunately, and I learned this the hard way, diarrhea of the mouth actually turns people off.

Once, in Junior High School, trying to impress the gorgeous girl sitting next to me in art class, I chattered away. She finally asked me if I could not say anything for the next half hour. So much for talking producing lasting favorable impressions!

Most people don’t want to listen to us. They want to do the talking. Dale Carnegie uses this very human trait to get us to ask the other person to tell us his or her opinions and to tell us about him or herself. That’s how one wins friends and influences people.

In addition, it’s how we can live daily in the silence. If we limit our talking, if we’re brief and to the point, we promote the feeling of stillness within ourselves. If we are friendly and kind in our brief replies to others, we will promote the feeling of stillness around us.

Most people don’t want to hear our chatter, as I painfully discovered way back in 7th grade. I am full of myself and the other person is full of him or herself. An impasse!

However, by being brief and to the point and letting the other person talk, while we listen, we promote silence, gain friends, and actually end up influencing those around us.

Where I used to work was a very negative environment. The morale was in the pits. One day, I decided to exude positivity. When asked how I was, I said, “I’m great! This is such a fabulous day! How are you?” My tone wasn’t loud, but it was upbeat.

Shock was often the initial response. Some got passed the shock and went on about how they were. Others wanted to know why I was having such a good day before that first cup of coffee or tea. My response was simple, sometimes even inane. “I’m breathing air instead of dirt.” Or, “Beautiful sunrise this morning.” My point being one can be positive for basically no reason at all. Simply that we are alive. Just be happy.

After several days, others started to pick up on it. I didn’t need to say much. I just was what I wanted to see around me. My non-verbals of smiling and good posture and soft voice did all the real talking for me.

Talking is highly overrated. Be brief and to the point. Let the other person talk, although you just might find your brevity is contagious.

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, be happy and talk less!

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