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Be silent or speak up?

Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

I must ask the question - just how much do you speak? How many times do you find it more important to get your 'two cents' in when others are raising a subject you might just know a little bit about? When you think you know more than they do, is that the time you interject your thoughts? When you believe you can add valuable information, do you find the urge to speak up? We have a whole lot of people offering opinions these days, but I reckon the silence of the wise may just confound those who are offering such opinions!

The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words. (Proverbs 10:19)

The wise measure their words. What exactly does that mean to you? To me, 'measuring one's words' is kind of like putting a muffler on your mouth. You 'suppress' some of the things you might like to say. It is also a little bit like using that tiny tube on the spray can of lubricant - it is aimed at exactly what (or who) needs to receive it and nothing else. 

We can be 'over-speakers' or even 'under-speakers'. Offer way too much, in situations where we don't really need to be contributors and we are likely to be viewed as 'butting in' or 'getting into someone's business'. Offer what some may consider as way too little and some may think you are ignorant, don't care, or are in total agreement with what they are saying. The problem with 'speaking' is that our words can get all messed up - we say the wrong stuff, at the wrong time, with the wrong intonation - muddying the waters in relationship way too often.

The wise measure their words because they have learned there is an 'art' to speaking the right words at the right time in a manner that will build up, give direction, or lend to the solution. How did they learn that? If we are perfectly honest here, it is likely through speaking too much at times, not enough at others, and words best left unspoken on occasion. The thing that sets the 'wise' apart is that they have learned from their 'words'. 

Bonaparte brings up an interesting point for us to consider - are words always the strongest way to 'speak'? I would have to say there are times when silence speaks way louder than any words I could speak. It conveys my disappointment on occasion, while it conveys my disinterest at others. It may be as important for us to learn to use silence as wisely as we have learned to use our words wisely. Sometimes what isn't spoken is the most important 'message' we need to be attentive toward. 

I think of a large group of peers gathered together to brainstorm the solution to a big problem. Many of the 'stronger' communicators in the group will speak up, write their solutions on the board, and even 'feed off each other's comments'. Then you will observe a few in every group who don't say much, if anything. Do they not have anything to add? They have ideas, see things in a different way than the 'louder crowd' may see them, but they are 'silent'. Why?

Maybe it is because they have learned it is wiser to let the 'louder' voices get their ideas all out there and then they speak up with the simplest of explanations or solutions to the problem. The quiet voice of reason heard from the back of the room - having thought it through, given it a chance to come together, then they speak up. Silence doesn't bespeak a lack of answers - it could just be the 'silent' are forming their thought into the most perfect of answers to the problem at hand! Just sayin!


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