Sunday, October 2, 2011


from Ting and I: A Memoir

I married a quiet woman. It’s a blessing. “Talk is cheap” and “silence is Golden.” Usually.

Why do some people talk so much? Some are nervous, filling the pauses with their noise. Some are so self-absorbed, they do not realize we are just not all that interested. Too much information, “TMI.” Often the patter is like that of the stage magician, designed to distract: Ignore what I’m doing; listen to what I am saying. As the man said when his wife caught him in bed with another woman: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

Manipulation is the goal of another type of talker, who argues, persuades, nudges, suggests, pleads, berates, wheedles, to name a few. Leave me alone!

Conversation is a form of exchange, a trade. If one party is lying or deceptive, he is exchanging counterfeit words for honest words of the person he is talking to. In economics, Gresham’s Law, an economic principle, is that cheap money drives out dear; in other words, debased coins and currency tend to proliferate, while valuable coins and currency are withdrawn from circulation, hoarded. Similarly, lying becomes endemic. The honest people no longer want to tell what they are thinking. “Political correctness” drives out candor.

If we are to count to ten before speaking in anger, the quiet person is doing that already. If a soft response turns away anger, a quiet response is softer still.

Granted, virtues can be overdone, becoming vices. Too little talk could make us mysteries to one another. Misunderstandings may more easily arise. Sometimes we must speak up or ask others to do so. With a quiet person, we may not know what we are missing.

President Theodore Roosevelt advised, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Yes.

No comments:

Post a Comment