“Brevity is the soul of wit.” -Shakespeare
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Robinson, always yelled at me because I could not stop talking. “You have very little discipline,” she would say under her breath, but loud enough for me to hear. She was right. I talked to my friends. I chatted with myself, when my other friends did not want to listen. I spoke often in reading, social studies, even science and math class. Talk. Talk. Talk. My mouth could not stop moving. As an incentive, she would give me stickers for not talking on the class’ mini-excursions to the bathroom, library, or cafeteria. I did not earn many stickers. Consequently, she would give me extra assignments when I continued to talk out of turn. Everyday, for roughly two months, I spent at least thirty to forty minutes after school working in the public library, researching and then writing a one page report on various topics. The Wright Brothers’ assignment was my favorite; it was then I decided that I wanted to fly!
The library became a hang out spot, in part because I dragged my friends along with me because I needed to talk to someone.
As I got older, I realized that after classes, the teachers and other students would often be impressed with the single poignant comment made by another classmate, without acknowledging my various, in my opinion, insight contributions. But s/he only talked once, I thought to myself, frustrated. This annoyance swelled. Until…
I decided to be more thoughtful with my ideas, specifically monitoring the amount of time I unnecessarily dominated the valuable air time in class or in conversations. I began to treat my shared ideas as if they were special, and deserved utmost care; everyone did not need to hear them. I was under the false impression that if I spoke more than get my point would be heard. My over-abundance of commentary actually had a reverse effect; people stopped listening.
Now I try to speak, not when an idea bursts into my mind because then I would never shut up. Instead, I only share my comment when it would add value and move the conversation forward.
Now, I also date the way I speak.