I’m one of the most opinionated people I know. If you’ve known me for any period of time that won’t come as a surprise to you.
Now there is nothing wrong with being opinionated, I count it to be a strength to have a strong conviction of what I believe and a heart to share that with others. In fact that’s why this ministry exists!
However, this strength has frequently been a weakness to me. It’s taken me a long time to mature in it and, truth be told, I’ve still got a heck of a lot of growing still to do!
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the power of staying silent. Of simply shutting up.
Shutting up is not always easy for me – but it’s something I’m really trying to harness as a default in my life.
1. Shutting up makes you smarter
Honestly – few things limit your growth in life than constantly broadcasting your opinion from the top of your lungs.
That’s why this blog and the Facebook page are just as much about the discussions that are sparked as they are about the blog/status themselves.
I want to learn! And it’s in the discussion with others that we learn and grow the most.
When we come across people with different life experiences and views, we expose ourselves to a different way of thinking and open ourselves up to a whole new opportunity for growth.
Even if you disagree completely with someone, take the time to listen to them, the way they articulate their point and think about the issues at hand, this will enable you to formulate and articulate your point more effectively.
Plus lets face it… if you are honest with yourself you know you won’t always be right. This is a great way to find out in a graceful way and learn from people!
2. Shutting up helps people solve their problems
I find myself in dozens of conversations a day where I’m out of my depth. But, funnily enough, I enjoy these conversations as I find them to be stimulating and interesting.
The conversations I have historically struggled with are the ones where people are sharing their problems and I know (or maybe more accurately – think I know) the solution.
So often in discussions with others I feel the overwhelming urge to tell them what to do. It’s extraordinarily frustrating to converse with someone when I feel I know what the issue is and how to solve it. “Let’s just cut to the chase” I can find myself thinking.
What I’ve learned though is that even if I do have the right answer it’s usually not a good idea to tell someone what they should do.
Especially if that advice is unsolicited!
For people to really change they need to have something called “buy in” they need to buy into the idea. While sometimes people buy into ideas given to them, people more often than not don’t really experience huge change in their lives unless they themselves have the idea.
When we are owners of the idea we have much more “buy in”!
During my coaching classes in ministry school they would train you to simply ask someone good questions and listen to them for up to 60 minutes at a time. It was incredible the things people discovered they knew about themselves and their circumstances that they had come to someone for help with.
In fact what I’ve found is that if someone has a problem the person best positioned to fix it is typically themselves! They know the people involved and the situation and know what the outcome needs to be.
Typically all that is needed is someone to listen and ask some good questions once in a while to help them discover the solution for themselves.
3. Shutting up will better your relationships
I don’t know about you but I don’t like spending time with people that talk about themselves all the time.
I want my relationships to be a two-way endeavour.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said:
The more I’ve taken that to heart, the more I’ve seen my relationships flourish. People love to be listened to. But that’s only half of it.
You will understand people better, making what you then have to say a lot more valuable and substantive.
I used to like the sound of my own voice… now I’m actively trying to develop a habit to enjoy the sound of other people’s voices.
4. Shutting up hides your ignorance, giving you time to learn.
We covered in the first point that shutting up will make you smarter. But honestly, even if you learned nothing it would do wonders for you.
I don’t know about you but I’ve gone flying into many conversations “half-cocked” and made a total fool of myself more times than I’d care to admit. In fact, I still do it too frequently :)
The Bible says this:
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Prov 17:28
I like that. I wish it was true of me more often, but what a great statement to aim for.
Even if you are a fool, shutting up will (as we covered in point 1) make you smarter. Not only that though – it won’t reveal your ignorance.
Too often I’ve revealed my ignorance in spectacular arguments, ones which I’ve only realised I was sorely lacking about half way though them. At this point it’s all too late to back out gracefully.
I like the way the famous Muslim Caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab says it:
Ain’t that the truth?!
So those are my 4 reasons you should shut up!
I’d love to hear from you.
Can you think of any good reasons to shut up?
Or maybe you have a funny story of a time you should have shut up.
Either way, please do leave a comment below.