There is a saying that God made us with two ears and one mouth for a reason. Knowing when to talk and when to listen is a skill. We often talk because the silence and pauses make us nervous. Or we talk to fill the void. On the other hand, some of us are too silent and speak only when spoken to; perhaps playing it “safe.” Balancing the two is the goal. My work as a radio talk show host and interviewer is all about listening and talking at the right moments.
Here are some tips to know when to be silent and when to speak:
- Talk when you have something to offer that the other person wants to hear.
- Listen when someone has something to tell you and needs to talk.
- Talk when you need to express yourself and the time is right.
- Listen first in a new situation. Assess the environment and speak when you can contribute to the topic or have an example to share.
- Set up appointments to talk when you know others have a busy schedule.
- When calling, ask the person if this is a good time to talk. Don’t launch into an in-depth conversation when they were not expecting the call.
I have learned that people tend to listen when the spoken words have meaning for them, and shut down when others talk too much, too fast, are repetitious and say things that are not of interest. Interestingly enough, listening well is how we learn what to say and how to say it.
Silence is golden and so is speech, especially when it’s balanced and meets the needs of both the giver and the receiver.