An old aphorism states, “’Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.” I can personally vouch for this straightforward advice. In fact, it has solid biblical support. The book of Proverbs warns against this overlooked verbal danger: verbosity.
The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined. (10:8)
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. (10:19)
He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (17:27–28)
Verbosity is the habit of talking too much while saying too little. People who are verbose usually feel compelled to comment on anything and everything, either because they fear silence or sincerely believe that meaningless talk is better than none at all. So these people fill blessed silence with inane talk. They interrupt without hesitation. They speak first and think later . . . if at all! And for all their talking, they remain hard of hearing.
A number of years ago I discovered that it’s virtually impossible to learn anything while I’m talking. That’s undoubtedly true of everyone. So, rather than fill a conversational void with needless chatter, use the time you have with others to listen well in order to understand more about them. Ask open-ended questions until you find a topic that excites them. More often than not, the conversation will take a meaningful turn as they describe their field of interest and explain why they find it exciting. As they let you into their world, you have an opportunity to learn and gain insight into a realm of that person’s expertise. When the time has passed, you haven’t merely talked; you’ve connected.
We used this week to consider several poor uses for the tongue. I hope our examination of these five unpleasant examples will encourage you to exercise more control over that powerful muscle in your mouth. Next week we’ll focus on some correct, healthy uses of the tongue. Frankly, I’m ready for the positive.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.