Keeping my mouth shut, unless …

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”  We’ve all heard this phrase before and as a younger man, I just brushed it off as cliche but the older I get, the more I believe it.  What is it about this phrase that rings so true? Because no one cares what you have to say until they respect you enough and are sure you understand their perspective first.

This is the trap that I get caught in, and it might be just because it is my personality or it might be something everyone struggles with, but keeping my mouth shut when I have a different opinion on a topic someone is talking about is hard for me to do.

It is in my nature to tell people what is on my mind, whether I agree with them or not. I have frustrated more than a few people in my life because it is almost impossible for me not to voice my opinion. This is not always a good thing and it is something that I have had to work on over the last couple of years, but I would be lying if I said I don’t still struggle with it.

Here are the “rules” that I try to follow before I feel the freedom to voice my opinion. Each one of these should be considered before you open your mouth and start talking.

Do I value, respect, and care for the other person? For me, the answer is almost always yes, but there have been times when I honestly don’t respect the other person. In those instances, I know that my opinion doesn’t matter to them or I know it’s not going to end well, so I just keep my mouth shut and move on.

Do I understand the perspective that the other person has? I will make sure I understand the other party’s perspective by asking more questions and then rephrasing what I heard to clarify.

Do I have time to talk this through? This might sound like a dumb question, but it is a good question to think about as there have been times in my life where I have shared my views and not had the time to really flesh out my thought process and it didn’t end well.

Who will my opinion benefit?/What is my motive for sharing my beliefs? These questions make sure you aren’t just sharing something to benefit yourself.

Have they asked for my opinion? If they have, they respect you enough to want to know what you think or maybe they’re just trying to pick a fight. Either way, my goal, when I have a difference of opinion with people is to get them to ask me my opinion. It is only then that I feel like they are really open to what I have to say.