Turn down the volume, please.
Does it seem like we are living in a world in which yelling is becoming the normal tone of conversation? I do not have any hardcore data to back up my claims, but my experiences have convinced me that this is so. If your experiences are similar, then perhaps we should begin by lowering the volume when we have access to the controls.
The other day at the grocery store, a mother screamed at her child so loudly that everybody else in the produce department stopped to look. The child was not in danger nor misbehaving. The mother was simply conversing with the child. I suppose she was so accustomed to yelling that she did not realize she was. I think the staring eyes of onlookers may have reminded her to tone it down. Besides the child was not really listening. He seemed immune to her voice.
In the movie theater the other night, an elderly patron decided to answer his phone during the movie. When he answered he informed the caller that he could not speak at the time due to his location. But he had to repeat this several times. Each time he had to say it a little louder. I had to give him “the look” and shush him.
Injury lawyers, automobile salesmen and other product hawkers often send us scrambling for the remote to mute the commercials. Good news: the FCC is making changes on the allowed volume of commercials. For this we can be thankful just as I am thankful for the technology of the iPod. Walkmans and iPods replaced the boom boxes of a few years ago. Remember those? A guy would carry an entire stereo system on his shoulder blasting his music for all to hear – whether you wanted to or not.
I know that we could all tell these kinds of stories. But if all of us get annoyed by such loud noises, some of us have to be guilty of being loud. I know that I have contributed my share of noise pollution to the environment. I want to yell my ideas, thoughts and opinions. I want to be heard.
But my actions usually produce the opposite of what I want them to produce. Shouting usually causes others to shout back or to tune out the noise. The result is that my idea is ignored or opposed. I get better results when I speak softly.
The volume of my voice is often a barometer of the condition of my inner being. When I am walking closely with the Lord, I tend to speak more gently than when chaos is stirring inside of me.
Today, I am reminding myself to speak softly, gently, kindly, lovingly and whatever synonyms you can think of.
You might want to read this article about being slow to speak.