I’m so over the noise. And I don’t mean the noise from the M3 highway next to my house or the noise from my neighbour's Spanish music playing late at night, or even my housemates' footsteps on the floorboards early in the morning.
I’m talking about the noise you wake up to when you open any social media app—opinions about this and that, who dragged who make-up tutorials, a ranting social media influencer, Trump said this and everything is fake news… you get the point.
We’ve all been given the gift of language – the ability to express our emotions, ideas, thoughts, and feelings with words that others can understand and interpret, but with every gift, it can be overused.
There’s little point throwing around words without substance, the real communication happens when you sit back and listen, for without listening how can you understand?
Below I’ve listed four benefits to speaking less and listening more to help improve the way we communicate with each other and the world.
The human brain has the amazing capacity to form patterns and jump to conclusions based on your historic interactions. Within a few words or sentences, we’ve often already predicted how the sentence ends.
How many times have you butted in when someone has spoken, only to realise that if you had listened, this conversation might have headed in an unexpected direction.
I’m guilty, we all are. Listening to someone means giving the person time to finish instead of letting your brain run wild with its predictions. Practice muting your brain and focus on what the person is saying and try to see things from their point of view.
Have you ever really, truly listened to yourself speak? Some nights I come home and think, “wow, I talked a lot of sh*t”, and for what? Did it help anyone, was it informative or was it just a space-filler? Thinking about quality, not quantity before we speak, and the relevance of that information is hard.
As humans, we love to hear ourselves talk, we’re social beings, but every time we open our mouths, update our Facebook status or Instagram story, we’re adding to the noise pollution.
It takes a conscious effort to only talk when you have something relevant and important to say but I’ve noticed, on days that I make an effort to try this, the quality of conversation improves and I feel like I’ve added something meaningful.
Space doesn’t always need to be filled, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to fill it. Learning to enjoy someone’s presence without filling a space with words can help you understand a person better.
Learning to observe and be aware of a person’s body language can sometimes say everything that needs to be said. Try some quieter actives like going for a walk, watching the sunset, reading a book, or listening to music together.
Turning your noise pollution into clean air is a deliberate action on your part but I can tell you, it pays off. I moved my social apps off the home screen on my phone and unfollowed people and pages that added no meaning to my life.
I spent time curating a feed that I wanted to wake up to each morning. I then changed my routine from watching videos on Facebook to instead listening to podcasts while I get ready in the morning.
So next time you go to speak, try following one of these points and see what happens—the worst thing that can happen is that maybe you learn something new.