VERBOSE – see also James Tippins.
I like to talk with the right people about the right things. I love to make people laugh and feel at home. And I absolutely love to teach people things that they want to learn for their benefit. Each of these passions requires communicating. Whether through speaking or writing, we have to talk in order to tell. And each of us needs to be considering how we speak and more importantly, to what end.
Here are a few ’off-the-cuff’ ideas that poured out of my brain as I was contemplating my day this morning. They are not profound but I believe some of you will find them very practical, and hopefully helpful.
Have Something Worth Saying
Blah, Blah, Blah…. that is not the way to motivate good listening. Some of the worst experiences of my life is when people assume I care at all about their political rants or spiritual laws. I really don’t want to be inundated with assumed kinship to ideals that are not even smart in the first place, much less be stuck hearing about the nonsense. [And I’ll write about this later, but asking questions in this situation is the key to avoiding the silliness while engaging the seriousness of other people’s passions.]
So think before you speak. Is what you’re about to say going to really have a mindful impact on the hearers or are you going to drop a bomb in the midst of a crowd and hope for the best? Emotional insertions are always detrimental unless used as a vehicle in presentation. In general, conversation, speaking without thinking and worse, without understanding that it is useful, brings a silent avoidance upon us where people seem to not want to talk with us.
A few ways we can do this.
- Listen in order to discover what others are interested in. Our interactions with others are supposed to concern their interests, not just our own. For the believers in the crowd, we know that the Bible puts a large emphasis on seeking to understand the interests of others in every sphere of life. When we know the interests, passions, and needs of others, we are able to talk with them about things that they want to learn. Teaching an unwilling student is typically a failure. A true teacher creates interest by knowing the interests of others.
- Speak with purpose about those things as you find a way to share your interest. After all, true intimacy is a mutual benefit, not one-sided. Let the conversation, lectures are also conversations, be driven by the end result. If today I want you to understand two basic principles of physics, I have to decide what those will be and leave it at that. I have gone into a classroom before with a month’s worth of information that was crammed into 90 minutes. The students were not amused nor did they learn. Purpose helps us determine the direction and gives us the opportunity to land our intentions from the very beginning, support them, restate them, and then apply them the next time.
- Keep it Simple and Short. Just talking and teaching does little good. As Charles Shultz so adequately depicted the voice of adults in the Peanuts cartoons, many people just hear us in that same muted mumble with little interest. Knowing what you hope to have on the table at the end of a conversation is key. And remember, there could be hundreds of steps along the journey of talking about things, we do well to focus on one at a time. Rarely do any true changes come from a dragged-out conversation but through many small ones.
- Stay Focused. This helps us fight distractions. When rabbits come running from the brush it’s easy to run after them like my Belgian Shepherd Rosa. It takes an ecollar at times to get her attention. That would not be very welcoming if we had to wear them. When we are talking about a particular thing and it leads to other inferences or ideas, acknowledge those ideas and say, ”That is great, let’s make plans to discuss that as well.”
- Leave it on the Table. When the time is up or the purpose is done, leave the conversation on the table for the next round. If we practice this it will rub off on others in time. They will get the wisdom in making room for more discussion or learning. One of the ways I transition into this is to say, ”Well, a few things I took away from this are…” Then I list the main point or points and follow up with, ”Next time we will revisit _____ and _____ as we also look at this other point that was made. Looking forward to it. What did you glean from our conversation/instruction?”
- Enjoy the Conversation. In the end, each participant should walk away with a feeling of investment as if they just grew in understanding. A teacher must grow in learning in order to teach. A communicator must grow in listening in order to speak. Each time we invest in the dialog it is either time wasted and lost or time gained and multiplied. If we enjoy the conversation we will see the fruit and look forward to the next harvest.
What are some tips you have learned about talking, teaching, learning, or listening?
Which one of these most resonates with you? What would you add?
Please put your thoughts in the comments below and let’s start our own conversation. I truly want to hear from you!