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While I have been taught that I have two ears and one mouth so that I can spend more time listening than talking, I’ve also learned that the tone of my voice is often more important than the words I use—just ask my wife. I also learned as a child that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yet, bruises to the psyche, mind, soul, and spirit can last a lifetime and never heal.

Have you seen some of these ways of hitting the mute button on someone else’s speech? Have you, as have I, been guilty of using some or all of these techniques to drown out the sound of someone?

*Talking over
*Ignoring
*Turning away
*Sticking earphones in
*Hitting the mute button on your phone
*Listening to someone else
*Paying attention to something else

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, a person can make it clear by their voice that they will broach no argument. They will not listen to any objections. Either fall in line or walk out the door may be presented as the only two options. I know I find myself backing down from such conflicts and will wait until another time when the individual is more receptive. Sometimes they are threatened when in a crowd of people and will be more courteous when alone. Remember being taught to praise in public and reproach in private?

I was watching my son’s dog eat over the weekend and was reminded being taught not to disturb an animal while eating, as they may snap at you. I’ve also seen wounded animals lurch at someone as they feel threatened. People with chronic pain, or even occasional pain, can similarly react strongly with their voice. We, indeed, are complicated beings.

Robots and automation are NOT the complete answer. They may be unfeeling and consistent, but they do fail in many ways. A short power outage in the home is a cause for multitudes of my electronic home automation to get reset and “behave” inappropriately. Recently my Apple HomePod and Siri refused to “listen” to me and said “she” could not help with the simplest of tasks of playing music. That was, until the next night I unplugged her power source and gave her a swift kick—oh, sorry, I mean I rebooted—oh, sorry again, I reset or “set her straight.” Also, all that automation does take a low skill, repetitive task away. But, it now takes a highly trained individual to program it and maintain it when something goes wrong. Not everyone is prepared for that type of job. We do need people with many different skills and aptitudes.

I admire people that can meditate, create artistic wonders, sculpt beautiful images, imagine music. They are expressing themselves and their spirit with other than words. I don’t want them to feel muted.

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” “We did not discuss that?” “I don’t like the tone in your voice.” “You don’t talk that way to Papa!” All words I’ve heard in the last week. How about you?