Monday, October 8, 2012

You are Talking When You Should be Listening!

When I was a kid, my father shared this phrase with me on repeated occasions: You are talking when you should be listening.  His timing was always perfect. He only chose to tell me that when I was spewing off my opinions prematurely or expressing inaccurate information. Choosing to listen instead of talking is not a bad idea in many situations. But there are notable exceptions to that rule.

Proper discretion should be used when listening.  We should we be careful who we are listening to. Whose advice are we taking?  Is that person credible? Should we really pay attention to their counsel, or take their pronouncements with a huge grain of salt?

Yesterday I shared a story with the church that I am not sure I have ever spoken about before. When I was in the 7th grade at Jerstad Junior High School, my English teacher required her students to deliver a speech before the class. It was one of those rare moments in my academic career that I actually did sufficient advance preparation.  After delivering my first ever public speech, the teacher implied verbally that I was not much of a speaker. Her written critique confirmed her thoughts and I walked away with a “C” on my speech. I listened to her. In fact, I believed her. I knew that I was not much of speaker as early as the 7th grade!

And then 9th grade rolled around 2 years later. I enrolled in speech as an elective thinking that it would be a blow off class.  We delivered several speeches during the course of the first semester. We even did some debates in class. I got really good feedback on my speeches from other classmates. And my teacher kept telling me: You have a gift… I never told her about the 7th grade experience, because I was afraid she might changer her mind! At the end of the year, I received the “speech student of the year award.” That boost of confidence led me to enroll in debate as a high school student.  I ended up traveling with the debate team.  And then interestingly enough I completed a BA degree in Speech Communications.

I listened to the 7th grade English teacher. When she told me that I was not much of a speaker, I believed her. But that was a mistake.  Could it be that she was talking when she should have been listening? 

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