You Talk Too Much!

you_talk_too_muchOur children, with the exception of one, are very outgoing. They talk easily amongst their friends, family, and even with new acquaintances. Even the one who is seriously shy often opens up after a few moments. They like to talk about what they are learning and ask others what they are being taught. Our children will generally carry on a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere, on almost any topic. While we encourage our children to share, it’s also important they learn to listen.

One of the subtle arts of parenting is teaching our children proper communication. Yes, to share. But also to listen. Learning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a challenge. One some of us adults – myself included – are still learning to master. Perhaps we could all use a refresh in this area?

Learning to Listen First – Speaking is the easy part. Speaking well harder. Not talking and listening would be the biggest challenge. Listening not for an opening during which we can finally speak, but genuinely caring what the other person is saying and giving them the entirely of our mind. Oh, to perfect this step alone would be a dream.

Learning to Ask Questions  Often the best way to open doors of communication is not by telling, but by asking. By seeking information from others we encourage them to talk with us and share their lives.

Learning to Identify Those Who Will Receive – Let’s face it, not everyone wants the entirety of our plans for summer vacation. Nor should they. Some are not ready to hear our fantastic homeschool adventures. And not every possible debate needs our input. We need to weigh our words; identifying what should be shared when, and with whom. It’s not a matter of other people not caring, as much as our caring to give people what God has directed in His timing.

Learning When to Speak – Equally challenging is knowing when to finally open our mouths. May the Lord give us wisdom and grace!

Learning How to Speak – Sometimes sharing can be done with pride, a smug attitude, or a sense of “knowing all about it”. It can also be harsh or bitter. We want our words to be kind and humble always.

Learning When Someone Wants Help – Confession. I like to help. It’s taken me some time to realize not everyone who is expressing frustration or anxiety really wants constructive input. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. May we be that which is needed most.

Thank God for close friends who make communication easy. We are incredibly blessed by those few who allow us to vent when needed, either when upset or ridiculously excited. We never have to weigh my words, calculate if we’ve spoken too much, or worry about interrupting. And our friends know they can count on us, too!

When addressing the rest of the world, may we err on the side of caution more than not; choosing our few words with care and giving those we meet Jesus. It’s more important they see Him and hear of His good deeds than anything we could possibly offer. When in doubt, we follow this sage advice, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;…”

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
~ Proverbs 10:19

Your Turn!: This does beg the question… How much talking is too much?

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This is an A-B Conversation

I think it’s part of our human nature to be aware of our surroundings. We pick up on the sights, the smells, the atmosphere, and, mostly, the sounds. When we hear someone asking a question, we tend to want to answer it. When we notice someone is lost, we want to help. While these are generally good qualities, we also need to gauge when is the right time to speak and when we need to remain silent.

Our kids tend to struggle in this area. They walk into our room, hear us in the middle of a conversation and immediately want to know what we’re talking about. Truthfully, I’m sure their desire is to merely participate in the conversation and we understand this. However, there is still a valuable lesson to be learned. Not every conversation is meant for them to overhear and they do not need to participate in every conversation we have.

As our children mature, we’re trying to teach them the art of conversation. While we stress the ability to listen well, think before speaking, and speaking in the right manner, we also want to impart the wisdom to know when they have no part in the discussion at hand and should quietly walk away (or at least remain silent until the conversation is over).

As adults, we try to model this for our children. Our children observe our behavior when in larger groups, watching how we choose to speak and decide to refrain. They see us patiently wait for someone else’s discussion to finish before beginning our own or are asked to join in another. We train our children by not allowing them to be a part of every conversation we have, helping them understand this is a private discussion which they are not a part of.

While I’m sure this must be slightly frustrating to our children – I can’t think of a single person who likes being cut out of a conversation – I think this is an important lesson for them. Not everyone appreciates their discussions being interrupted, especially when the exchange was meant to be private. Every dialogue is not necessarily meant to include all those standing around. Until you are asked to be involved or it is obvious all are welcome, it is probably best to remain still.

Time to Chime In: (See, I’m asking you to talk! – laughing) Do your children tend to interrupt adult conversation, attempting to participate? What steps have you taken to help your children determine when it is acceptable to join in?

Pardon Me While I Interrupt

The Art of Speaking

Learning how to look people in the eye and carry on a good conversation, during a recent co-op class.

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, only to have one of your children run up to you and start speaking? Or perhaps you were speaking with someone and they interrupted you to interject?

I know I have found myself, and my children, guilty on both counts. It annoys and bothers me, so I am making a point of getting a handle on it.

I wonder if the root of the problem is lack of self-awareness, self-absorption, or both? In one circumstance, not taking note of the situation and presuming it is okay to speak. In the other, thinking that what we have to say is more important.

The argument could be made that interrupting is necessary, in order to make your point before it is forgotten. I confess, I can’t really argue with that.

For most of us though, the problem isn’t that we would forget, but rather that we simply don’t wish to wait.

I wonder if our need to interrupt offends or hurts the feelings of the person we are speaking with. I know, for myself, that has been the case on a few occasions. I have thoughtlessly allowed my children to interrupt and made the other person feel disrespected. I have interrupted someone else, making them feel unheard and unimportant.

While interruptions may have their place and time, I believe they should generally be avoided. In order to prevent myself, or my children, from developing this habit, some guidelines are being put into practice.

When interrupting someone else’s conversation:

  • Wait until the person who is speaking has finished their thought process or taken a pause.
  • Say excuse me before interrupting a private conversation.
  • Wait to be addressed before speaking.
  • Speak quickly and to the point, so that the conversation may continue.

When interrupting while part of a conversation:

  • Think before you speak, making sure the comment actually needs to be made.
  • If possible, wait until the speaker finishes a thought or expects a response.
  • When finished with your thought, remind the person of what they were saying so that they can continue.

There is no fool-proof way to stop yourself from interrupting, nor are there strict guidelines about when you should interrupt. I do think we should make an attempt at controlling the issue though.

I want my children to learn the importance of letting other people speak, the respect that should be shown to those who are speaking, and the art of conversation.

The lesson needs to start with me, by example. If I want my children to be aware of this social grace, I need to be modeling it myself.

Do your children have a problem with interrupting? What guidelines have you set in place to ensure that interruptions are kept to a minimum?