Centuries ago the Roman poet Ausonius wrote: “who does not know how to be quiet is not able to speak”. And the truth is that in the world we live in, there are more and more people who speak and fewer people who listen. The obsessive desire to spend the time doing always something, it also impels us to speak, as if silence were an uncomfortable companion to get rid of as soon as possible. However, often we say more remaining silent.
People who talk a lot learn a little and, eventually, by monopolizing the conversation they end up being avoided by others when they realize there’s no space left to express their own feelings or ideas. For this reason sometimes we need to learn to say more talking less. Sometimes talking less means being more assertive.
5 ideas to communicate more talking less
1. Give more hugs. A hug can say a lot without words. In fact, there are situations when any word can result banal and even uncomfortable. In such cases, there is nothing better than a hug, of those who break the sorrows and bring people together allowing them to connect from deep inside. And if you need more excuses to give a hug, a study conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University, revealed that hugs help us deal with stress and strengthen the immune system, which is because it generates positive feelings that promote the release of hormones such as oxytocin.
2. Do not be afraid of silence. Mark Twain wrote: “The precise word may be effective, but no word has ever been as effective as a precise silence”. The ability to remain silent in front of another person creates a completely new feeling of intimacy. In fact, be silent without feeling uncomfortable with another person indicates that we have reached a point in that relationship where is not necessary to fill the gaps. There are situations in life when, rather than be confused with empty talks, a person needs just to have someone close, silent, giving emotional support.
3. Summarize your ideas. A conversation needs at least two partners, which means we should be assertive enough to allow others express their feelings and ideas. If we monopolize the conversation, it will become a monologue that ends up boring the others. Therefore, when you express an idea or tell a story, go to the essentials, don’t lose yourself on the inconsequential details, so to let space to others for speaking or telling their own experiences.
4. Stay tuned to others’ reactions. A conversation is like a dance in which each person must pay attention to the other’s reaction, and act accordingly. Unfortunately, we often imbue too much in our argument that we forget the other. However, the key of assertivity is to capture and decipher the reactions of our interlocutor, to see if is bored or if our discourse goes astray. In such cases, we must correct the course, choosing precisely the phrase that causes the reaction we want.
5. Listen. Someone said that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion. When we practice active listening we are not taking a passive attitude, on the contrary, we are demonstrating to that person that really matters to us and we are interested in his message. The act of listening transmits respect and interest, is a way to tell our partner that can trust us and that we are interested in his opinions and needs. Therefore do not interrupt continually, listen to others and show your interest. Remember that there are times when a well-crafted speech and the most logical reasons do not serve any consolation, when a soul needs to mourn, the best we can do is become good listeners.
Cohen, S. et. Al. (2015) Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness? Psychological Science; 26(2): 135–147.