Yes Talk

Decorative Hole by Laurie Buchanan

Decorative Hole by Laurie Buchanan

You’ve heard the famous quote by Epictetus, Roman (Greek-born) slave and philosopher: “We have two ears and one mouth so we may listen more and talk less.” To me that means that when we speak, it should add value.

What we voice has the capability of transforming negative emotions and evoking particular emotional responses. For that reason, I suggest to my clients to only voice what they want, and to refrain from stating what they don’t want. In other words, instead of making statements like “Don’t slam the door,” “Don’t forget your lunch,” and “Don’t talk to me like that,” state your desired outcome instead—say what you want. “Shut the door quietly, please.” “Remember your lunch.” “Speak to me with respect.”

Positive statements help develop neural pathways in the brain for optimistic thinking. When we voice what we want—the constructive end result of what we’re asking for—we provide those in our sphere of influence with tools for success. A subtle shift in our communication can result in improved behavior. It also makes us feel better about our interaction with the people around us.

I took the photograph in today’s post during a recent stay at the UW-Madison campus. It caught my attention because it appears to serve no purpose—a decorative hole in the foundation of a pedestrian bridge. I keep it in my line of vision to serve as a subtle reminder: make sure your ears and mouth aren’t just decorative.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

23 thoughts on “Yes Talk

  1. Wonderful reminders of how to make the world a positive place for all.

    Thank You, Laurie!

    Sending Love, Jeannie

  2. That’s a good reminder, Laurie. To speak in terms of what we want. That subtle shift could make a big difference in terms of our mood for the day. Thank you.

    • “Subtle shift” … that’s a good way to look at it Kathy. My husband and I are business partners and I frequently catch myself saying, “Don’t forget to ….” When that happens I correct myself by rephrasing the question to “Please remember to …” It makes a world of difference.

  3. Thank you for this Laurie. Good communication truly is a universal solvent. Just because some people are living in the middle of a bunch of smoke-filled chimneys and narrow streets in something called ‘culture,’ does not for one moment remove his environment from the environment. Teaching respect and manners and also survival skills to predict what sort of force and effort are needed to have a level of communication where others will listen is such an important part of our education. I used to be more like the attitude of a goldfish in this universe from how I was raised but had to learn to deal with sharks along the way too. Its amazing the skills communication can do when applied.

    • Kathy – So good to see you, friend! Thankfully, I don’t deal with too many sharks, but my mother did teach me, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” meaning it’s much easier to persuade people when you’re polite. I’m glad you stopped by — thank you.

  4. You post reminded me of the days long ago when I worked with children in day care centres. Instead of saying, “Don’t run.” What I said was “Walk, please.” Instead of, “Don’t scream.” I said, “Use your inside voice.” Because when I said, “Don’t run.” All the children heard was, “Run”. Also I believe that children should grow up hearing a lot of “yes”s and very few “no”s.
    I think this feeds nicely into the theory — what you focus on grows. So if we all focus on the positive we will leave in a world of possibilities.
    Words are valuable — use them wisely.

    • Leanne – I soooooo appreciate people who speak to children in a way that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing. I resonate with your belief, “If we all focus on the positive we will live in a world of possibilities.” Break a leg tomorrow night at the reading of your short story — TAKE NOTE.

  5. There is always the need for a decorative hole, to look through, of course. You’re very right, it’s the retraining of our thought patterns, the correct phrasing even unto our very thoughts that will gradually reshape our thought processes. I have been working on this for several years and have several more years to go, it’s getting much easier.

    • Sandi – Ain’t it the truth that we’re all “a work in progress.” The funny thing about the decorative holes in that pedestrian bridge is that when you looked in one, there was solid cement on the other side. They were staggered so that it was a hole looking at cement, a hole looking at cement, and so forth … very strange. There must be a method to the madness. I just don’t know what it was.

  6. I will check with my hubby…
    He travels all over the US, I kid you not, Looking at
    concrete! He is a Director of Construction and we will see what his answer is. My guess is it is something during the curing process holding everything in place to harden..Stay Tuned…


    • Kim – I appreciate the information Mike provided through you. For the rest of the readers, here’s what was said:

      Most likely it could be what they call a nock out. If at some time they wish to access behind the concrete. The other thing it could be is the bridge could be a post-tensioned design and they maybe cables located inside. Just some thoughts. Hard to tell without see the existing condition in person.

  7. Hello Laurie,

    Well said, because contrary to popular thinking there is not a need for creation of new things, but rather a better understanding of prevailing thoughts.
    For it is not the wind that needs change for us, but we for it, so as to sail the same wondrous adventure in a different direction.


  8. Hi Laurie, the understanding that our thoughts and our words have the power to change our brain is so amazing to me. That we can literally create new neural pathways by changing how we think and speak and use our words.
    I love this imagery. It helps me to be more patient (and gentle) with myself when I slip into old ways (and words!) and is such a great reminder of how thought and word really do have the power to change our life and our world. Sigh, just wish that some of those neural pathways hadn’t been worn quite so deep!

    • Colleen – I’m so glad you stopped by and and found benefit in this post. I agree that it’s really cool how our brains work! Thoughts and words are vibration. There is tremendous power in vibration. When we stop to think about it, vibration is what triggers and gives momentum to tidal waves, earthquakes, and avalanches — some of nature’s most amazing phenomenons. It’s no wonder that it works wonders with humans as well.

      • Laurie, it really is amazing, isn’t it! I’ve always been fascinated with how our brains work and how some of the biggest mysteries of life (and our universe) become much more real and personal as medical science unravels the mysteries of our brain. We human beings are just so amazing!

  9. You are right on target Laurie — our words create our world. To live life voicing what we want is a wonderful mantra. I don’t ever remember creating something by voicing what I don’t want . . . except empty spaces. By default, something has to fill the space and generally, it was something I didn’t want either. Every time I catch myself imagining anything I don’t want to happen, I have to give myself a good talking to and envision what I do want.

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