Rules when talking

Have you ever thought you knew the whole story when someone was talking but find out later you did not know even half the story?  Too often we allow our actions to be swayed by what we understand at the moment and we do not know the whole story. Sometimes we do not take the time to make sure we really understand what someone is saying. Sometimes we simply are not paying attention because many times we are more interested in what we have to tell others than we are in what they have to say to us. How many times have we talked to someone and knew exactly what we were going to say before we even began the discussion and never worried about anything they thought? We knew what we were going to tell them and not really discuss with them. What they had to say or what they really thought did not matter.

If you tend to dominate conversations spending more time talking than listening, you need to ask yourself why you do it. It is a serious question you need to ask figure out. Is it because you like the sound of your own voice? Is it because your words are more important? Is because you really do not care what other people have to say? I challenge you to think about why you have to dominate conversations. Whatever your reason you do it, you should understand that when you dominate conversations, you are subconsciously communicating to the other people that you care more about your affairs, your opinion, then you care about what others think or have to say. When you are one who dominates conversations, you are someone who at least in that area of life is self-centered.

This is not what the Bible teaches us to be self-centered but in Philippians 2:3-4 it teaches this, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

If we are truly looking out for the interests of others it means we will listen more than we talk. God has given us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Perhaps it is so we can listen twice as much as we talk? Make sure to listen to and hear what the person is saying before you say anything. One of the best ways to encourage others is not with our mouth but with our ears to listen to what they are saying.

Here are some nevers. Never speak over some or talk when they are talking – it is rude. There is a difference between an affirmation that you are listening and speaking over someone. Never whisper to someone else while someone is talking – it is rude. Wait for the person to be done then say what needs to be said because normally a whispering comment is not something that needs to be said. Never ask a question of someone and answer it yourself without giving them time to respond – it is rude. If you ask a question – listen to the answer.

If you really have a hard time not listening to what others have to say – I challenge you to practice this: try withholding your opinion in conversations unless someone specifically asks you for it. You only share what your opinion about something if someone asks for it – otherwise you listen and do not say anything. It will be a tough think but what it will do is help you learn to listen first and think before you speak. To succeed in any relationship we must master our mouth and that comes from holding our tongue, thinking before we speak, and listening more than we speak.

Do you ever struggle not really listening to what others have to say?  What are some ways you would suggest that someone work on this?  Any other thoughts you want to share or rules you want to share regarding talking?

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12 thoughts on “Rules when talking

    • When I worked in counseling we had to go through training like this and then in graduate school we talked about about Reflective Listening techniques. Good thoughts Tony.

  1. Listening is a skill. One that doesn’t come naturally. We are often so self-centered that we miss the importance of other people and their stories, passions, dreams.

    I think one of the most powerful things you can do is listen and make eye contact. Are you listening to what I’m saying Jim? :)

  2. Being able to pay attention and listen more than talking is so key to having solid relationships and conversations. I have learned the importance of letting the other person talk and paying attention. One way I do this is to maintain eye contact and not let distractions distract me. Great post.

    • I think listening is such a key leadership key – when you do listen – you learn so much more than you can imagine. Thanks for adding Dan!

  3. Good post, Jim. We are all a mix of 4 basic identified personality types. But for most of us, there is usually one dominant type we prefer. For each of the 4 types, here is who will tend to have more of a challenge with the kind of listening you are referring to in your post:

    The LION (entrepreneurs, hard-driving, energetic, task-oriented)
    The OTTER (life of the party, very outgoing, people-oriented)

    The types that will tend to be more natural at listening rather than dominating a conversation:

    The GOLDEN RETRIEVER (caring, methodical, people-oriented, loving)
    The BEAVER (technical, methodical, task-oriented, structured)

  4. Sadly, one of the things I’ve done to get under my wife’s skin is talk over her when she’s saying something. Not my proudest moment at all… and one that I need to confess from time to time. :) So needless to say, I could always learn a lesson in listening…

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