Talk less, listen more, always appreciate

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 23, 2021 - 12:00am

Perhaps the world will be more peaceful if people, especially politicians, stop talking too much and try listening more. Also, we, commentators, journalists, netizens should stop the propensity for fault-finding and shift to more positive reinforcement.

The problem with talking is that once you say the word, and once you inflict pain, cause insults, ignite anger, and provoke retaliation, it becomes very difficult to undo what has been done. Words are powerful, both in the positive and negative sense, mostly negative. In geo-politics and foreign relations, wars may be triggered by a reckless word of a head of state or a provocative speech delivered by a foreign dignitary. Relations between and among states, or among neighbors in a community or between husband and wife may create conflict that will be very difficult to repair. There are presidents who talk too much and some of them are impeached for inciting sedition, others are charged with summary executions or extra-judicial killings, because of loose talk that may be interpreted as admissions against interests. Still others are labelled as sexist, racist, or sexual perverts because of too much loquaciousness.

Listening is more courteous, respectful and polite. It promotes goodwill and diplomacy. Some very effective communicators listen more and talk less. We should learn from the Dalai Lama: "When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. When you listen, you may learn something new.” Gautama Buddha advised: “Speak only when you strongly feel that your words are better than the silence.” Lao Tzu said: "Silence is a source of great strength.” William Shakespeare wrote: "Words are easy like the wind. Faithful friends are hard to find. Have more than your words can show. Speak less than what you really know.” The best leaders are not known to be the best speakers. For achievements aren’t generated by words, only by silent decisions and unassuming actions.

We should learn less criticism and more appreciation. Many columnists in print and broadcast find glory or fame in negative comments rather than in positive reinforcements. These come about as a recurrent phenomenon precisely because the public seems to applaud more those who focus on faults, excesses, and imperfections as opposed to those who see beauty even in the most atrocious events and circumstances. The culture of negativism indicates a sick society, a nation that expresses its defense mechanisms via bitter words and stinging rebukes is actually a community of people with distorted values and shattered national soul. Negative words spread over the media or internet poison the hopes of the people and weaken a country.

Our unsolicited counsel to our readers is simple: Talk less, listen more and learn to appreciate always. Restrain yourselves when you’re tempted to blurt out insults or sarcasm. Keep the air unpolluted by the stench and decay of verbal or written garbage. Save humanity from the venom of your spoken or printed slings and arrows of outrageous expressions. There’s more than enough poison already scattered by tyrants, scoundrels, rascals, and scalawags. Life on this planet is already overwhelmed by the burdens of too many miscreant charlatans. Please don’t exacerbate the atmosphere of negativism pervading our atmosphere.

The best advice I received when I was a boy of five, was from my maternal great-grandfather, Tatang Ino: “If you have nothing pleasant to say, you will be more admired if you keep your mouth shut.” Today, each time I get into trouble when I say something or write something nasty in my column, I always catch myself, remember his admonition, and hear myself blessing his soul. No talk, no mistake.

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