Speak Up vs. Shut Up

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Most people have an ongoing battle with communication. What causes them to speak up (or shut up) at the wrong times?

When should I speak up? When do I shut up?

The older I get, the more I ask myself these questions. When I was much younger, I didn’t ask either question much. I just picked one, then practiced damage control as needed.

I have a friend whose wife says his mouth struggles too often with “Ready. Fire. Aim.” We laugh, but we’re all guilty of this at times.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about a meeting where people were clearing the air on some issues in their organization. The one guy in the room that everyone knew had the most issue with things and consistently mouthed off was the quietest during the meeting. What causes us to speak up when we shouldn’t and shut up when we shouldn’t?

Isn’t it ironic, though, how “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” and “I’m sorry, I should have said something” can have equal weight in offense?

Here are 3 thoughts for this on-going battle in us all …

1 — Listen more.

I didn’t say hear more; I said listen more. Active listening is a skill that we must constantly be honing. We never arrive. For introverts, this means taking in what is being said in order to form the right response. For extroverts, this means take a pause and listen too.

2 — Make your words count.

I didn’t say count your words; I said make them count. When you speak, make it matter. Cut the fluff. Cut the pre-amble. Wise men are not quiet men; they listen; then say the right thing at the right time in the right way.

3 — Ask Jesus for his ears and mouth.

Okay, go ahead and ask for the rest of Him too, but in communication, praying to hear people as He would, and speak to them what He wants, makes all the difference in the world in how we understand others and how we are understood.

Gentlemen, we can change our communication for the better. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Christ can be Lord over our personalities, our ears, and our mouths.

Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right. —Proverbs 23:16 NLT

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