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By Claudia Lee

People like to talk. It’s in our nature to want to feel important, so we overshare. We like to talk about ourselves, the great things going on in our lives, what’s stressing us out, the latest gossip. We like to forge bonds with people through our likes and dislikes, and for our intellectuals out there, we enjoy engaging in interesting dialogues. Talking is great because it’s a way to share ideas and put things into action. However, talking becomes problematic when we don’t even notice what we’re saying or remember what we say some time after it is said. Our sentences come out smooth and automatic. People don’t take the time to think before they speak and that can be very damaging.

If we slip a comment that wasn’t meant to be offensive, but it did end up offending the other person, we look like an asshole. People remember us by the way we make them feel, even if it isn’t intentional. Telling a girl she has small boobs or a big nose, saying to someone they are obnoxiously loud, or telling your teacher that they remind you of Holden from Catcher and the Rye, and that he doesn’t seem like “father material” are not good ideas. Especially not the last one. We think that whatever we think is so important enough to say aloud, because if we think it then everyone else does too, right? Not true. Everyone has their own take on things and us adding our comments could potentially backfire. It could worsen someone’s image of themselves. Before we comment on someone’s character or appearance, we should think of the different ways this person may perceive it. Will saying this tear down the other person’s self-esteem? Or will it help them grow as a person? Remember, what we say and its intention matter, but how we say it overrules the intention. This is the biggest skill to master when it comes to maturity. Once you’ve got it down, you will find few people who do not like you.

Talking too much affects yourself as well. Oversharing about your life may make others form opinions about you that may not be so great or accurate. Nobody likes people who are self-involved. Nobody likes one sided conversations. Oversharing is dangerous when it’s with people you hardly know, because then they could use this information against you. They could spread rumors or make you seem a certain light when you’re not. When first meeting people it is best to listen more than you speak. You learn more about the other person and will be able to evaluate if they are trustworthy or not. If they constantly gossip or talk badly about their friends, they’re probably not someone you want to get close with. People love to talk, so let them talk. When you’re a good listener people will like you more. The ability to not interrupt people when they talk is a quality that is not given enough credit. It is a very admirable trait and it’s such an important life skill. People want to be heard, so listening and not interrupting makes them feel important.

Start listening more and talking less. You’ll learn more about yourself and be more conscious of your thought patterns. You’ll be able to identify how you feel in situations better. Have you ever noticed that when those who do not speak often actually speak, everyone listens? It is not through how much we say or how loud we say it in order to be heard, it is through carefully choosing what we say and when we need to say it that does.

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