W. A. I. T. - Why Am I Talking?
How would you answer the question “Why am I talking?”
1. Because everyone else is talking.
2. I have an urge to talk.
3. I want attention.
4. In order to communicate with a purpose
5. I don't know.
In our society, a lot of talk seems routine and automatic. By contrast, in Finland (ironically, the cellphone capital of the world) people speak with few words, apparently having done some thinking before verbalizing. Or, as one anthropologist has suggested, due to a certain cultural shyness.
Most of the talk I witness does not seem to be mindful. A lot of talk seems empty of real value except for the quite Useful purpose of bonding people. That's the function of small talk. However, even that bonding purpose seems bankrupt if a person needs to make ten phone calls a day to the same friend, spouse, or relative.
Most Behavior is Out-of-Awareness
Many of our behaviors are habitual. We can drive a car, ride a bike, type a sentence, or walk into the next room without thinking about what we're doing. We can just “do it.” The same can be said of our talking behavior. We can easily go `on automatic` without being aware of why we are talking or even what we are saying.
How often do people apply conscious guidelines before Talking such as these suggested by Henry Babcock?
`When I want to speak, let me think first:
-Is it true?
-Is it kind?
-Is it necessary?
If not, let it be left unsaid.`
No Talking Allowed
We discover how automatic our talking is when we are required to be silent for long periods of time. For example, during a yoga or zen silent retreat, rules may require hours or even days of silence. No talking. Time is to be used for individual meditation and reflection. Many persons find this a very difficult thing to do.
Native Americans Careful About Talk
In a Native American Iroquois Council, members speak in a lean, succinct manner, often interspersing talk with periods of silence. Speakers are mindful of the power of their words and their responsibility in uttering them. This cultural form has increasingly been borrowed by non-native groups in order to bring the quality of mindfulness to a discussion.
Similarly, in the ancient Hawaiian system of Ho`oponopono (group problem-solving through discussion), the leader calls a time-out for all to become still if discussants raise their voices, speak blamefully, or begin to argue. Each is reminded to speak their truth in a respectful manner.
So much talk is out-of-awareness that certain speakers are quick to deny what they said. They may continue to insist that `I didn't say that` until a recording is played back to them. Even psychiatrists in training, ostensibly among the most aware of communicators, have been shocked when they observed their talking and nonverbal behavior when played back to them on video.
How do we become more purposeful in our conversations? We must first see value in mindfulness, and then we must commit to being more mindful. We may need to ask for honest feedback from others, or we may need a recording and listen to the playback.
Speaker and consultant Allen Weiss writes,
“Do you know what ‘measure twice, cut once' means, interpersonally? It means that you should think long and hard before saying something damaging to someone else, because you can never `undo` the cut.”