“I was just trying to be encouraging.” I told my husband (with a pout) after he pulled me aside during a dinner party to tell me I had interrupted a friend before they’d barely had a chance to tell their story. Somehow, my husband and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on my conversation style. He thought I was being rude, and I thought I was rescuing the person from the isolation one can feel sharing personal details.
After a good amount of reflection, and some more pouting (ineffective, might I say), I realized my husband was right. I realized during my time of reflection and observation that not only do I interrupt people to encourage, I also interrupt to:
Interruption is also common in workplace teams. I have been on teams where people didn’t hear or reflect on anything the speaker was saying. They were simply waiting for the speaker to breathe so they could give their own opinion or ideas.
Do you see yourself in these reflections? If you do, don’t worry—this is human nature. We have experiences and opinions to share. This isn’t all bad.
The question to answer is: When to speak and when to be silent?
Throughout history people have been trying to answer this question.
I learned a lot about listening on a recent trip to Ireland. We visited several monasteries that were established around the 4th century (maybe earlier). From the beginning, monks have had the highest regard for silence. After reading the monks’ guidelines for speaking, my 16-year-old said: “If you did all these things, you would rarely speak.” He might be onto something.
Here are the five standard guidelines for speech (summarized):
The Bible is also filled with teaching about speaking. I found at least sixty Scriptures on the benefits of listening and silence. As we close today’s blog, here are a few Scriptures to consider and meditate on:
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV)
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:18 ESV)
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20 ESV)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)
The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Proverbs 16:21 ESV)
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 ESV)
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1/29/2018 01:21:22 am
"Is it spoken at the right time?"
1/29/2018 02:27:20 pm
Alisha, I wonder how many of us in ministry find ourselves being “fixers”? Articles, such as this one, serve as good reminders of what we already know, but perhaps forget to correct. Thank you for sharing! Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 02:23:03 am
This is a skill I am continually learning as well as taking time to teach my children. Thank you for the article and the verses that support why we must pay attention to what we say and when we say it!
1/29/2018 02:31:30 pm
Casey, I’m glad to see you not only learning for your own benefit, but passing it along to your children. It blesses my heart! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 08:36:05 am
This is definitely an area I’m working on. I need to be a better listener, offering advice only when asked, not interrupting, and when speaking glorifying Christ in what I say ⚓️.
1/29/2018 02:29:01 pm
Paula, thank you for your honesty! Sometimes, just verbalizing what we need to work on propels us in the right direction. Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 08:59:45 am
This is so important if you lead small groups. Sometimes the leader thinks they need to be the center of attention, but often times that doesn't help the members to feel valued. When we take time to listen and reflect what people say, we are letting them know that they are valued. This takes a while to learn, and I hope I have gotten better with age! LOL!
1/29/2018 02:34:33 pm
Sara, such an important observation! There’s such balance that a leader/teacher must incorporate into effectively guiding their followers. I’m sure your years of experience have give you many opportunities of growth in this area. Thank you for sharing! Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 09:11:12 am
Love those 5 guidelines. I’m keeping the list as a screenshot/handy pocket reminder. It’s always tough to balance if what you have to add to someone’s conversation is truly worth adding.
1/29/2018 02:42:46 pm
Brooke, great idea to take a screenshot! Yes, it can be a balancing act for sure. Not only that, but sometimes, especially for those who are good listeners, it can seem that conversation just passes them by. But, if silence is golden, then perhaps less is more in certain settings. Just a thought... Congratulations! You have been entered in the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 02:26:30 pm
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV)"
1/29/2018 02:50:29 pm
Brianna, such powerful verses! It does take each of us starting with our own selves, doesn’t it? What a different place the world would be, if only... Thank you for sharing. Congratulations! You have been entered in the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 02:29:59 pm
Ooh! This one hit me right between the eyes. I’m definitely guilty of the quick summaries of people’s stories or interrupting to encourage...but when the tables are turned I often don’t feel heard or valued. This is a great reminder! Thanks for sharing!
1/29/2018 02:47:55 pm
Georgina, thank you for your honesty! It’s amazing how things look from the other side of the table, isn’t it? Congratulations! You have been entered in the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 03:33:55 pm
I also like what Georgina said about the tables being turned. Very thought provoking indeed.
1/29/2018 10:41:29 pm
Mary, thank you so much for responding! Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 10:28:30 pm
I think we want to help others so much we forget sometimes all someone needs is a way to vent out the stress. As women we don't always want a fix, just to know someone is willing to listen. I need this reminder daily sometimes.
1/29/2018 10:45:38 pm
Isn’t that the truth?! Thank you for sharing that observation. Congratulations! You have been entered into the drawing for Breakaway 2018.
1/29/2018 10:47:33 pm
Oops! Needing you to leave your name, if you want to be entered into the drawing.
1/30/2018 08:42:28 pm
This was a good reminder to be slow to speak. I agree with Michaela, I tend to want to help others, I sometimes forget they just want to vent and someone to listen
2/1/2018 09:46:48 am
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