Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When Losing Your Voice Isn't So Bad

I lost my voice four days ago and I am starting to wonder: will it ever come back?  No, not my literary voice; it's my actual voice that's shot.  I can speak just above a whisper in the early part of the day, but by dinner I'm back to almost near silence.  It's not been easy but it has made me think about my words in a new way.

(If you're reading on email, click through to the blog for the full effect!)

Here's a few things I am learning from this experience:

I Talk Too Much About Everything
Man, I really am a talker.  I like to tell everyone how my boys are a "wall of sound" who "never stop with the jibber-jabber," and while that is true, I can't deny that it's definitely more peaceful around here without my chatter added to the mix.  With speech now such a huge effort, I have become much more selective about what I say and that has me realizing that the vast majority of what I say just doesn't have a point.  It's like my mouth is just a release valve for my overactive brain.  But I don't want to waste anyone's time just spewing stream-of-consciousness.  Besides, being selective about what I say makes me want to be more selective about what I think.

Fewer Words Make a Bigger Impression
Every time I speak over these last few days, I have tried to get my point across in as few words as possible.  It turns out, the same editing process I use when writing is helpful when speaking.  Helpful hint from Captain Obvious: this is also known as "thinking before you speak."  I feel like I am getting my point across to my people with (almost) zero nagging.  Maybe its partly that everyone feels sorry for me, but the kids are doing things after one request.  I can't help but think that my simple, pointed statements are making it easier for the children to focus on what needs doing.

Speaking Softly Makes People Listen
One of my pet peeves is my people yelling throughout the house to get each others' attention.  Yet, when dinner's ready or its time for school, that is exactly what I do!  With no ability to yell I am realizing that I am the worst offender on my own pet peeve!  But speaking softly demands the attention of your listener.  This morning I read a story to the boys over breakfast, just as I do every morning.  Except this morning I was speaking in a whisper.  Rather than the usual spinning around in chairs, or roaming around the kitchen for a napkin/refill/spoon/yogurt, the boys sat quietly and paid full attention to every word.  They had to, or they would miss it.  I'm definitely pulling out this trick when I need full attention in the future.

Plus I Can Hear Better Too
It's easier to be a compassionate, active listener when you already know there's literally nothing you can say in return.

I guess silence really is golden!  I'm still hoping for my voice to return soon but hopefully I'll hang on to these lessons even after it does.  Turning off the release valve, editing my speech, speaking quietly and just listening may just become my best go-to tricks in communicating with my people.  

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