Taryn and I are huge fans of the CBS show “Survivor”. We’ve watched it from season 1. As I’m writing this, the 28th season of Survivor is only a few weeks away, and it amazes me that every season, without fail, someone seals his fate because he talks too much.
This fact prompted me, years ago, to make my “#1 Rule for Survivor” – KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
Cast members of each season of “Survivor” clearly don’t know my rule. When my family and I sit down to watch the show, one of us will end up saying, “#1 Rule?” at some point during the episode. Someone always talks too much.
This rule works for “Survivor”, but doesn’t it work in life too? Maybe it’s not #1, but it’s still important.
We all want to be heard, we want to express our thoughts and emotions, and we all want to get our point across. The problem with that is that we often forget to stop and listen.
Stopping to listen is something which requires a lot of work. It’s not something that comes naturally. We all know it’s something we should do. The Bible, especially the book of Proverbs, is full of verses that tell us to listen. One of my favorites is Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” (NKJV)
Here are 3 reasons we should remind ourselves to stop and listen:
- Listening makes the other person feel good.
We all feel good when we are talking about ourselves. We feel good when we get to express our thoughts and opinions. That’s the biggest reason we need to teach ourselves to stop and listen. When you’re in a conversation with a friend, a colleague, your spouse, etc., make sure you give him time to express his thoughts and opinions. Let him finish. Make sure you let him feel good. Resist the urge to interrupt by inserting your own thoughts and opinions.
- We learn something.
Have you ever noticed that when our mouths are running we aren’t learning? I don’t know of any studies off hand, but I believe it is impossible to learn when we are talking. There are times that I have gained clarity on something while talking, but never a time where I’ve learned something new while talking. If we can keep our mouths closed, we may actually learn something from the person across from us.
- Listening helps control our emotions.
One of the worst times to open our mouths is when we are upset. Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest times to keep our mouths closed. Wanting to express our emotions, especially our anger, is wired into our DNA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always a good thing.
Obviously there are times when I’m angry with Taryn or one of my children, and I can say with certainty that I have never handled a situation correctly where I was angry with them and I didn’t first let my emotions subside. If we just pause and breathe for 20 seconds, let our emotions settle, we can express our concerns in a much more effective way. The trick is to make sure we pause first.
In the end, it’s always best to remember the #1 Rule. Close your mouth and listen. Analyze what’s being said and how you can most effectively respond to the conversation. By doing so, you’ll work on controlling your own emotions. You might learn something. And you might just be helping that other person to feel good about himself.
“The tribe has spoken….”
Tell us about a time when you intentionally kept quiet, listening and controlling your emotions? How difficult was it for you? How did you feel after?