“The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.” (Proverbs 10:8)
Have you ever been in a conversation where you feel the person has been talking too long? More importantly, have you been that person?
You may feel like you are a “bystander” being spoken at instead of a respected “contributor” being communicated with. If you are like me, you can remember several occasions where you have likely overstayed your “talking welcome.” Be encouraged to know there are strategies and tips to help ensure you are speaking wisely as opposed to “babbling foolishly.”
The words we use or don’t often indicate how we think (wisely or foolishly) and which way we live (wisely or foolishly). The book of Proverbs gives much instruction on how to live wisely and what it looks like to live foolishly. In the workplace, it is essential to consistently speak professionally. Our words are one way our colleagues, boss, or staff will know our thought process, knowledge, and understanding of a subject. They will also see if we are willing to listen to their input and make the best decisions. And speaking wisely pertains to verbal conversations and things we may write in an email, letter, or Social Media post.
To babble is to “talk foolishly or too much.” Other versions refer to fools as “chattering” or “prating .”The definition of prate is to “talk much and without weight, or to little purpose.”
There are some distinguishing features to a person who speaks wisely, and to a person who babbles or chatters foolishly. We will go into more detail over the next few weeks and add them to our list.
Let’s start with knowing when to stop talking.
A Person who Speaks Wisely Knows when to stop talking
A Person who Babbles Foolishly Usually talks non-stop
Harvard Business Review has published “How to Know If You Talk Too Much,” which provided great insight and tips. Essentially, they state that there are three stages of speaking to other people.
You are on task, relevant and concise.
It feels good to talk, but you do not notice the other person is not listening.
You have lost track of what you are saying, the other person is getting fidgety, and you talk even more to regain their interest.
They suggest the “Traffic Light Rule” by Nemko to remember to talk less and listen more.
First 20 seconds: your light is green. The listener is liking you. You become boring and chatty if you talk for more than a half minute.
Next 20 seconds: your light is yellow. The listener is starting to lose interest or think you are long-winded.
At the 40-second mark: your light is red. Occasionally, you may need to run that light and keep talking, but usually you need to stop, or you are in “communication” danger.
This week at work, be mindful of how long you are talking before you stop and listen to what the other person wants to say. If you have difficulty knowing how much time has gone by, you may actually want to have a watch or clock in sight to keep you on track. Ask questions about what you have said. Ask them for their input. Let them know they are a respected contributor and not an innocent bystander. You need to have their feedback. This way, you bring your faith to work by listening to and respecting others.
Taking This to God in Prayer
“Lord, there is so much we can learn about speaking wisely. In every conversation at work this week, help me be aware if I am being wise or foolish. Help me know if I am dominating a conversation, going off on a tangent, or not taking time to listen. In this way, I can honor You and bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
May God richly bless you this week as you honor Him and bless others with what you say and don’t say!
Bonny, Christian Women at Work