Talking to someone who has stopped listening is always frustrating, and it usually ends up making the speaker look and feel foolish. Throughout the divorce process, I finally realized that the more I talked, the less he listened.
During my midlife divorce recovery journey, I had a terrible time keeping my mouth shut. Even when I was not sobbing or screaming at my husband, especially when I was calmly trying to convince him to come back or to give up his girlfiend (yes! girlFIEND!), I talked too much. My “lips and gums” were flapping when they should not have been.
Andy Warhol once said, “I actually learned that you have more power when you shut up.” 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 called the “Keys to Power” contains the following thought: “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.” That’s definitely true when you’re going through divorce.
Even though there is definitely a place and time to make your opinions heard, there is a time to simply stop talking and let someone else fill in the spaces of silence. Let him make himself look foolish for a change. By us not talking more than is absolutely necessary, our wasband usually gets flustered and starts dancing around with his own shallow defenses.
My trouble was that before he was done talking, I was already figuring out what to say in response. I would respond to ridiculous statements like “we could have worked this out if you weren’t so unforgiving,” when he was still actively seeing the other woman, and I had let him come back home time after time after time. He knew those kinds of statements sent me over the edge — head first kicking and shouting as I went!
How much better off we would be to just stand in quiet control than to let our lips start flapping. Our words rarely change their thinking. I would have been better off to say, “Is that it?” Or, “Is that all you have to say?” and walked away.
Today, let’s all try to only say things that really need saying. Let’s give our “lips and teeth” a rest. It will be good discipline, and we might find out that most people have worthwhile things to share. We might even discover that the less we talk, the more carefully people listen to what we do say.
“Watch your words and control your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” Proverbs 21:23 (The Message)
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