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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Think I Sprained My Uvula

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can chatty Cathy with the best of them, I really can, but there’s a point in time when I prefer to not talk. In fact, there are times when useless chatter sets my teeth on edge (low-hanging pun, couldn’t resist). My point is that they say Silence is Golden for a reason. I did a little research into that phrase, and by little I mean I Googled it and looked at one of the results, this isn’t a dissertation. (Sidenote: you know you've made it when people start using your company name as a verb.) Evidently, the first example of "Silence is Golden" in the English language is from a poet named Thomas Carlyle, which is a little ironic if you think about it. But it may have even been used in ancient Egypt as well... also ironic considering the recent vocal uprising.

My point is that a lot can be said with silence. In fact, I didn’t realize how much I could actually talk (verbose would have been a shorter way to say this) until I tried to teach a 4-hour class immediately after a wisdom tooth extraction... three wisdom teeth to be exact. Besides the embarrassing drooling, my speech was as illegible as a drunkard's handwriting. So, I resorted to writing out what I had to say on the available marker board in the classroom. Let’s just say, all of my talking made me high as a kite. It also made me consider my words more carefully and it definitely made me admire those who use an economy of phrase communication style. To this day, I worship the monosyllabic! Something I am really not capable of.

Another interesting turn of phrase is A picture is worth 1,000 words. We’ve all heard this one, right? I love this one. Is it because words are cheap and art is expensive? I don’t think so. I think it has to do with the amount of bull you can put into a picture as opposed to a sentence. Quite frankly, I can only speak for the US here, but we talk too much. We talk so much that we quit actually saying anything about 15 years ago. I blame marketing experts. A great example of this is modern business lingo. Have you noticed that all the great “management/business/leadership/training experts” basically say the same thing, just with different words. They take an old idea, re-brand it so they can copyright it, and then they sell it. I guess everyone needs to make a living, but when I see things like this, I just want to scream “EMPORER’S NEW CLOTHES!! EMPORER’S NEW CLOTHES!!!”

Are you wise too? Tell the world!  http://www.cafepress.com/naughtyviking.424327962

I’m also not a fan of filling awkward silences with useless chatter. Don’t get me wrong, I do this. It’s awkward and I’m co-dependent, so I like to fix things. But it’s still annoying. It’s taken me a long time to realize that some people communicate s-l-o-w-e-r. They need time to digest the conversation as they go along. This is a good thing... I mean actually thinking about what we’re going to say before we spew meaningless jibber-jabber on our conversational partner is generally appreciated by said partner.

 Coming soon to www.naughtyviking.com

And finally, in silence, you can hear. Okay, I know that sounds like a leap in logic, but silence gives you moments to listen with your ears and your everything else. Have you noticed that intuitive people tend to be more quiet while “sales” people tend to chatter? It’s because intuitive people are listening, they are absorbing. Sales people, on the other hand, are trying to convince you of something. Remember that real communication is primarily non-verbal. Some experts estimate that up to 80% of what we say isn’t in the actual words we use. It’s in the cues we get or give. If we’re constantly chattering, we miss all the good stuff. I’m talking about the crinkle of the eyes, the fidgeting, the smile or frown, the nod etc. In the non-verbal, we can connect. And ultimately, this is what we’re so desperate to do right now. Unfortunately, this desperation is actually the trigger of some of the jibber jabber. It’s a vicious cycle isn’t it? So, the advice for myself and if you agree with me, for you, is “when in doubt, shut up”. I could have made this more elegant, but it would have taken more words.
 Shameless marketing, we all have to make a living: http://www.cafepress.com/naughtyviking.430534880

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