Talk is cheap. This proverb refers to the fact it’s easier to say we’ll do something than to actually do it. There’s no doubt we sometimes use words far too freely. We unthinkingly open our mouths and say things we later come to regret. Or, as the proverb suggests, we use language to make promises we can’t keep.
As with many things, the antidote to poor use of language, is to slow down a little. When we slow, it’s possible to take the necessary time, to process our thoughts and true intentions. Above all, we must slow-up sufficiently to give ourselves enough time to consider the consequences, of the words we’re about to use. Thinking before speaking is a skill to nurture.
Last night I went to see the improv comedian and performance poet Phill Jupitus (If you’re English you’ll perhaps know him from various TV appearances during the late 90’s). Although I’m not in the business of reviewing comedy acts, or poetry for that matter, I thought on the whole it was value for money. My only issue was with all the shouting.
Quite a lot of comedians seem to do this. Often it’s done to beat hecklers down. Last night, it also had the effect of scaring the laughter, out of the audience. On occasion we all seemed terrified of Jupitus. He was very loud and intimidating. Laughter is an antidote to fear. Does Jupitus know this? Anyway, the hideous volume can mostly be credited to a good PA system, I suppose.
Words can be our stock-in-trade
Without the power of words (and their volume) Jupitus would be a bit lost. Words are his stock-in-trade. It’s evident time has taught him how to use words to good effect; even if this is just to shout down the hecklers. He seems to have grown so very tired of being heckled, over the past fourteen months of touring, that cutting them all dead in the first ten minutes – through sheer volume alone – seems to have become a necessity.
There was a little cleverness when Jupitus suggested – that if anybody wanted to heckle him – they’d be brought down to the stage to do five minutes of stand-up on their own. The audience went quiet, in terms of heckling, from that point forward. Hecklers are after all, just seeking a little bit of the limelight themselves, and Jupitus has cleverly recognised they often only want this surreptitiously. The suggestion, like any defence tactic, could have backfired though. Luckily it worked on this occasion.
The Alternative: Beautiful use of Language
Like his mother before him Andrea Bocelli sang to his son a lot during his childhood. Listen to them now and this becomes all too evident. These two people, and their use of language, is evidence of how we become a clear reflection of the type of communication we experience during childhood.
For some of us the type of communication experienced, was gentle, considered and kind. If so, you will have become a reflection if this. The alternative is the harsh, manipulative and ugly use of words, we so often hear. I personally heard a lot of fear and anger when young. Because of this, it’s necessary I make a conscious effort to remain gentle and calm, especially when anxious and stressed.
When I listen to Andrea Bocelli and his son sing, it makes me want to use gentle and beautiful communication. Their beautiful example makes me want to do this with all those I meet. I’m sure more music will help me on this quest. A door to be left open.
With this in mind, I believe we must all consider how and why we use the words we do. We could all be a little gentler with each other. We must also take the time to create the silence needed, to change these words, into something beautiful.