Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Speak only when spoken to

I've heard this advice many times and often directed at children. Thank goodness it's rarely used nowadays because I recently learned that it is virtually impossible. Well, impossible for me, that is.

I thought I'd test the do-ability of this hoary old piece of advice at dragonboat practice. Initially I thought I'd try it for a whole day but I realized right away that as the mother of teens, I'd never be able to get my quota of nagging in. In fact, I probably never get to say a word. So I thought I'd try inflicting this on my unsuspecting boat-mates.

After answering many questions about whether or not I was "okay" (apparently I make my presence known the second I enter anyone's vicinity and not doing so made people suspicious) I realized that this is no fun. At all.

But I learned a lot about myself. Here they are in no particular order.

1. I talk a lot. (I kinda knew that one already)
2. Waiting for people to talk to me is annoying
3. I'm not a fan of conversational silences. I apparently fill them up with inanity
4. I occasionally have interesting things to volunteer
5. I'm a stealth chatter. My ordinary modus operandi is to join an already in progress conversation and throw in my own bon mots until I'm in control. I couldn't do this so I just smiled and nodded. Smiled and nodded and mentally screamed  for someone to address me.
6. I'm not doing this again.

Speaking when spoken to also can be pretty impractical, especially in a learning environment. I had to break it several times when I needed clarification about stroke rate or race plan. It was impossible, if I followed this rule, to ask questions about things that were going on in the boat. In a classroom (because again, this advice is usually given to kids), how are they supposed to learn if they can't freely ask questions? Plus, there were times when I needed to give an instruction and couldn't do it. So it wouldn't work as an instructor. Or nagger as I learned earlier in the day.

I think you should try this if only for a little while. I'd love to hear your experiences good or bad. Even though this was no fun for me, it was a pretty neat and harmless (except to my ego) experiment. I'm dying for someone to document trying it at a party. Cuz I ain't doing it...


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