In my midlife divorce recovery journey, I had a terrible time keeping my mouth shut. Even when I was not talking out of anger and was instead trying to convince my wasband to come back home or give up his girlfriend, I talked too much. My “lips and teeth” were moving when they should not have been.
People from every culture and every country and every religious persuasion have advice about the importance of silence. For Benjamin Franklin, it was one of his 13 Virtues. Andy Warhol put it this way: “I actually learned that you have more power when you shut up.” As a young man, Andy came to the conclusion that it was virtually impossible to get someone to do what you wanted by talking. In his later life he utilized this truth with great success. The less he talked, the more intriguing he became.
In the book The 48 Laws of Power, one section on the “Keys to Power” contains the following statements, “Saying less than necessary is not for kings and statesmen only. In most areas of life, the less you say, the more profound you appear. By saying less than necessary, you create the appearance of meaning and power.”
Talking to a brick wall (anyone we know?) is always frustrating, and it usually ends up making the talker look and feel foolish. Even though there is definitely a place to make your opinions and feelings heard, there is a time to just stop talking and let someone else fill in the spaces of silence. Let them make themselves look foolish. By us not talking more than is absolutely necessary, they usually begin to get flustered and start dancing around with their own ridiculous arguments.
How much better off we are to just stand there in quiet control than to let our lips start flapping. Anyway, in most cases, the more we talk, the less they listen. Let’s all try this weekend to only say things that we really need to say. Let’s have fun but let’s give our “lips and teeth” a rest. It will be good discipline, and we might find out other people have interesting things to say, and in the future, they might listen more carefully to what we do say.”
“The one who knows much says little; an understanding person remains calm.” Proverbs 17:27