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.