Community Coach blog, Dan Rous, 17 June 2021
I was relaxing the other evening watching “Later… with Jools Holland” when he introduced a song from UK jazz musician Emma-Jean Thackray. She’s quite a talent, being listed as a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, bandleader and DJ! The style of music hooked me in and I was really taken by the use of a sousaphone by one of the musicians – not something you see every day! But it was the title that really got me thinking and became the seed for this week’s blog (not what you really want at 1030 on a Friday evening but that’s my commitment to you!).
Just think about the song title for a second – Don’t just speak … say something.
I wonder what thoughts that has brought to your mind. Feel free to share either in the comments or by messaging me directly. But for me, its about making sure that whatever comes out of my mouth is worthwhile, helpful, and not just said for the sake of it – that the language I use is to build up not to knock down. I could also apply that to this blog, where I try to put out useful material that will be of interest to you. I’m really grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received from readers which is helpful in knowing this blog is not just reaching people but is having the desired results. I accept that the subject each week will not be for everyone, and the same can be said for some of the things we generally want to say in life. Is this really something that everyone around you needs to hear or is this us just voicing a thought in our head that we really just need to work through ourselves or in a specific conversation directly with someone?
So, let’s look at this in relation to our daily lives. What are we speaking or saying generally? As we’re chatting to people at the school gate, in the shops, on the bus? What about when we’re ‘chatting’ to people on line or making a social media status update? Are we just speaking for the sake of it or are we actually saying something?
While we ponder all that, here’s the lyrics from Emma-Jean Thackray’s song:
Open your eyes before you open your mouth.
Stick out your tongue and let me look inside.
I want to find what’s down your throat.
Open your heart to open up your mind.
Those pearly whites do they really shine?
Are they even real? They look too bright.
I want to find what’s deep inside.
If you must speak, show us your mind.
Don’t just speak…
Blogger Reno Omokri says “Don’t speak because you want to say something. Speak because you have something to say. The more you talk just to say something, the more your listeners lose respect for you. The more you talk because you have something to say, the more they gain respect for you. And when listening to people, don’t focus only on their words, or you may miss out on what they‘re really communicating. Pay attention to their demeanour, their eye contact, or lack of it, etc. People lie with their spoken language, but hardly with their body language.”
I’d say that really sums it up, so you’ll be pleased to know I don’t have a lot more to add!! But I think the timing of this is really important as we’re beginning to move back to higher levels of activity and therefore more interaction with people. For those who haven’t necessarily had much direct human interaction over the last year, conversations may have been extremely limited, so this is a good time to remember even how to interact with others.
And the other side of this is actually looking at the person you’re talking to. As Emma-Jean says in the opening line of her song “open your eyes before you open your mouth”. What can you tell about the other person before you speak? Are they actually in the right frame of mind to hear what you feel you want to say?
It’s also important to understand that this doesn’t just refer to the general statements you say, but also the questions you ask. By that I mean asking the right kind of questions that will help you get the answers you need – and bear in mind they might not be the answers you’d like! Business advisor Belinda Lui says “The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs and miss out on opportunities to grow.”
This is a key part of our impaCT coaching programme during which our coaches will actually help you to ask the right questions of yourself and then to work towards finding and understanding the answers for yourself. It will help you to move towards your potential which includes how to interact better with others. There’s more information on all of this on our coaching page.
So as I close for this week, let’s all just think more about what we say, how we say it, and why we are saying it – both in person and online. And let’s give as much value to listening as we do to speaking. These are huge parts of community life that will further build on our community spirit as we regain the art of truly meaningful conversation.
Until next time, if you want, here’s Emma-Jean’s song for you to listen to!
Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151 firstname.lastname@example.org