Q: Would you encourage outspokenness in relationships? I find myself being misunderstood most of the time and I’m always feeling the need to explain myself so I dont lose the ones I love.
A: When we are too outspoken, we can become a bore to others. Not everyone cares to hear what we think or feel about every subject. In close family relationship, in school, at work…all of these relationships require tact and tolerance and discretion when holding forth on our own opinions. One of the “mota” statements is this one that your question brought to mind:
“Whet the appetites of your associates for truth; give advice only when it is asked for.”
And this one:
“The argumentative defense of any proposition is inversely proportional to the truth contained.”
Being misunderstood is the human condition. All of us feel misunderstood from time to time. Jesus himself was severely misunderstood. Even in his own family, he was thought to be “beside himself” more than once, so you are in good company…!
It seems to me that it is not so much what we say, but how we live—the things we do—that really make an impression. The old expression “talk is cheap,” has the ring of truth to it. Everybody has an opinion about something, and most people are more concerned with making their point and being recognized than in hearing the opinions of others, no matter how close the relationship may be. And the further away we get from really close relationship, the more circumspect we probably should be.
If you are lucky, you have at least one close friend or family member who loves you and who DOES care what you think, and who can help you air out your opinions, as you do the same for them. For the rest, I would simply watch for the opportunity to “whet the appetites of your associates for truth.” Not so that YOU stay in the good graces of others, but so that you may attract others to the Kingdom. And of course, “give advice only when it is asked for.” Cultivate the art of listening, rather than speaking…cultivate true friendliness.
And finally, the way in which you say something can make a big difference as to whether it is received. Even a hard truth, when spoken in love, can be accepted more easily than just hammering someone with that truth out of an attempt to be “right.” This just antagonizes people, and makes them avoid you. If what comes out of your mouth is truth delivered with love, that truth will stand of itself, and you won’t have to create that “argumentative defense,” that can be so tiresome…pray for confidence, wisdom, and spiritual strength in all your dealings with others.
These are just my thoughts, but for the most beneficial advice on how to speak to others, please read As Jesus Passed By We can all benefit by knowing how Jesus managed to draw so many to himself.
Also, I might suggest that you read that entire list of “mota” . There are any number of statements there that can give you further insight. And with that, I will stop my own outspokenness…!
I hope that this reply has been helpful…thanks again for writing…