Thursday, February 20, 2014

Learning To Listen More Than I Speak

Learning to listen more than I speak. What a concept. It has really become evident to me lately just how much I speak. Sometimes I am funny, sometimes I am eloquent, sometimes I give good advice, and sometimes I just babble. It’s those last two on the list that really get to me.

Advice. Okay, so I have been through A LOT in my short life. Really, I have lived enough for two people, and I have come through it via the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (NLT)” Because of this, I think that it is very appropriate to give advice out of your own experience, but only when it is asked of you.

Sometimes people come to me for advice, but sometimes they just come to me to talk and I give unsolicited advice. They are kind and listen to me and even nod along, but looking back, I realize that I was doing them a disservice. Even if what I was saying was worth solid gold, what they needed most was just an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean or cry on. And you know what that boils down to for me? Pride. In searching myself, I find that it is pride that makes me give advice when none is asked. What a sinful and ugly thing pride is. And it is sneaky; it disguises itself as all sorts of things, including concern for others. 

So from this day forth, I am going to make an effort, with the help of God, to listen to others; not with the intent to respond, but to understand their heart.

Babbling. Seems innocuous right? An idiosyncrasy? Maybe; unless you do it out of fear. I realized that when I am nervous, aka fearful, I babble. I talk at the speed of light, I get out of breath, I sweat (eww), and sometimes I make jokes that aren’t very funny. A good friend of mine, Kay, once told me that I didn’t need to make jokes, that I could just be open, honest, and vulnerable instead of hiding behind humor. And this was on the first day that she met me. Oh to have half the wisdom of that woman. At first I was slightly hurt, but that hurt very quickly turned into self-searching and knowing she was right.

If I was to describe myself, some of the words I would use are talkative, people person, and extrovert. But honestly, how many of those terms really describe me? And how many of them are forms of protection; shields; masks? This babbling happens the most when I am meeting new people or in large groups, or put on the spot. Ugh! Such fearful situations for me. Fear. Again, an ugly, deceptive sin that is a skillful chameleon.

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)” So I know that I should not live under this heavy weight of fear. Going forward, with the help of God, I will attempt to keep my babbling and jokes to a minimum and see what happens when I zip my lips and listen more than I speak.


  1. first part of my comment: First, I couldn’t have written a better post myself about myself because I am just like you. I am full of good advice wrapped in good intentions and cover my insecurities in humor and loud, fast conversation….. wow, we are SO ALIKE.
    And, I do what you did to yourself here on this post – I beat myself up. And, what usually happens is someone comes to me and tells me to stop beating myself up, and offers me a different perspective, or at least one that aligns with the person I am and have been. And now I get to be that person to you!

    Advice……. I know what you mean – I too have lived a life full of experience and I have come through it by the grace of God. I have stories to tell, clarity to offer, advice to give. And it seems people always come to me for advice!
    Because of that, I seem to give advice, like you, unsolicited – with the best of intentions, of course!!!! And I realize that sometimes maybe they just want an ear to listen and I should just be quiet. So, I agree.
    BUT…. Would they come to us if all they wanted was a quiet ear to listen? Or maybe, they come to us time and time again because they DO value our advice and opinions, solicited or not. We are mindful and prayerful in the advice we give and while I know sometimes things I have said might have upset people and even sometimes been hurtful, I always have good intent. I know which people are in my life that I can talk to if I want to feel halfway listened to and get no feedback…. And I know who I can turn to when I want advice. I would never go to so and so, who is always a disinterested ‘ear’ and hope that they will offer me advice, I’d go to the person I’ve always knows I can count on to give advice. So maybe, they actually come to us because they LIKE the advice, even when they don’t want to hear it?? The other thing I think about is, what if teachers never spoke up and gave advice to a student who didn’t ask for it? If an advisor or teacher never spoke up and offered a suggestion or advice to the student who didn’t even KNOW they needed the advice or suggestion, then the student would never grow! They didn’t even know they needed advice or a suggestion, but had the teacher never spoke up, unsolicited, they might have missed a huge opportunity for improvement. So, don’t beat yourself up and don’t hold back – instead, I have been trying to SLOW down in offering up advice and think it through and pray on it if needed before I open my mouth. I feel like I shouldn’t change who I am and have been my whole life – I haven’t chased these people away from me yet and they come back over and over again – maybe I am one of the only people they think really listens and cares! Why change that! Instead I will focus more on doing it slower, smarter and more prayerfully when needed.
    (continued in the next comment.... lol)

  2. (second part!)
    Babbling….. lol!!!!! Can I tell you, I was just out with some girlfriends this past week and found myself babbling – and turning red, getting clammy, getting winded and going onnnnn and on and on….. I stopped it. I am making myself aware of it!!!! lol!!!! I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!!! I feel it even worse when my boss puts me on the spot with a test…. I’ve never been good at paper tests – so to put me on the spot with a verbal test and my salary on the line?!?!!?! HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Prepare to get lost because what is about to spew out of my mouth will make no sense! Lol!!!!!! and going back to beating ourselves up, I actually just posted on my blog about this ( – looking at myself a little harder, in turn beating myself up – and guess what – my post was 1,457,232,563,124,346,114.33434545555 words long – I BABBLEDDDDDDDDD!!!!! Because I was insecure about admitting my insecurities!!!!!! And fearful! I babbled in writing!!! Like I am now!!!! LOL!
    I totally understand where you are coming from and I am having a hard time with this myself. But, playing the advocate for people like us here, at least we cover our insecurities with good humor and a cheerful attitude and personality. Some will see right through it – we see through it ourselves, but some will appreciate it and depend on us to be the one who will ALWAYS make them smile, the person they know they can ALWAYS turn to for good conversation, an optimistic attitude and a corny joke. I don’t look at it as fear that makes us talk this way, I see it more as insecurity, which is fearful, but seems a little less harsh lol. People like you and me want to be helpful and happy and are insecure that we won’t come off that way. I think that is admirable of us. And so to help us with that, maybe we should thank God for giving us a nature of nurturing and of joy and optimism and humor and help us to realize it in ourselves, be confident with it and express it better and freely because we are made like this for a reason, and we might just be everything somebody needs.

    I think you are great, I love babblers and I love advice givers and I love people like you who care enough about others to take a look at yourself – I don’t think there are many of us out there and I feel alone sometimes and a little stupid for being who I am and start to question myself when I start thinking like you did in your blog – and your blog changed my perspective. I hope I can help change yours. 