In 1972, two oil tankers collided under the Golden Gate Bridge, spilling 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the bay. Dying birds, fish, and seals began washing up on the shore. This prompted a man who lived near the bridge to pursue a simpler life that would require fewer natural resources.
First, he began walking everywhere. Then a year later, he decided to stop talking. He did so to call attention to what was happening to the environment. It worked! As a result of his 13 years of silence, the press took note of his cause and his message. And in the process, he also learned what it meant to really listen to what other people were saying.
I’m not going to suggest that we do something as radical as that. But what this man discovered holds true for us. Talking less can help us not only to hear more but also to be heard more. Often our silence is more eloquent and noteworthy than any words we could say.
Solomon emphasized this truth in Proverbs 17:28. The wise person hears and is heard because he knows both when to talk and when not to. And he has a way of speaking even when he is silent. There is wisdom in talking less in order to say more.
If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
Of whom you speak, to whom you speak,
And how and when and where. —Anon.
Don't break the silence unless you can improve on it.