photo of a man and a woman at a dinner party

Why Bother Talking Less and Listening More?

Good communication is essential to good relationships. The better we are at relating to others, the better our relationships will be. 

Where did you first learn to communicate? Most likely it was during your formative years from the adults that surrounded you. 


As a kid, I observed the adults around me and noticed how each of them had their own unique style of relating to others.

For example, my mother. She was a fun loving socialite. As a hostess at an upscale restaurant, she’d sashay around the tables, shaking hands with professors from the university, patting the backs of coaches from the football team and laughing at the stories the all star athletes told her. Gabbing and hobnobbing with groups of people was her style of relating. 

My father’s mode of relating to others was as a listener. He was a gentle mannered man who was careful with his words. He was kind, steady, respectful and patient. 

My grandfather was a recluse. He did not relate well with others. Instead, he analyzed business systems and machines. He was shrewd, self-reliant and prospered in the business world.  

Finally, there was Grandma. Of all my family members, she was the easiest one for me to communicate with. She always said what she meant and meant what she said. She’d stand her ground and never gave an explanation or an apology for her decisions. 

Albeit subconsciously, I modeled Grandma’s style of communication because it worked for me. Then, I met, fell in love and married Luke and discovered that altering my way of communicating was necessary. 

Luke is a man whose demeanor and style of communication reminds me of my dad’s. He has a gentle and quiet spirit, he’s a good listener and a man of few words. 

These qualities are great when quick decisions are not required, when there is no need for assertiveness, or when there are no conflicts to resolve. But, when a quick decision is necessary, when assertiveness is needful or when a conflict needs a resolution, Luke’s qualities seem to fall short. 

Though I tried hard to persuade him to be like me; quick to speak, fast with decisions, and fearless in the face of conflict, I could not convince him to be anything other than who he was. 

Three years into our marriage I almost left him. We were battling a legal dilemma, fighting for easement rights on our property. Decisions needed to be made and I was tired of waiting for him to make them. 

But, instead of leaving, I took my dilemma to a good friend who gave me wise counsel. He told me, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” And so began my personal challenge to talk less, and listen more.

Oh, but at first it was painful. My mind constantly whirled with the words I wanted to say, “Just make a decision,” or “Go ahead, tell me what is on your mind, it can’t be that difficult.” But, it was for him. 

While remaining committed to talking less and listening more, I discovered that I was the one who needed to change.  

First of all, Luke was much more conscientious about the words he spoke than I was. He knew that once a word was said, there was no way to take it back. 

I decided to slow down and think twice about my words. Did they build someone up or cut them down? 

Secondly, being a good listener like Luke required patience and humility. I have the ability to rapidly fire off words, but lack the humility to listen with patience. Listening with patience, I discovered, gave me better understanding. 

  My resolve to speak less and listen more resulted in a change for both of us. My husband now shares more and hesitates less, while I’ve honed my listening skills. Oh, and the easement battle, we won. 

I am convinced that no matter what style of communication we use, speaking a little less and listening a lot more can alter any relationship for the better. 





  1. Susan B on March 25, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    Well, that’s Biblical, according to James.
    What an encouragement to your husband to read such loving words!
    And such an encouragement for me who has the same kind of husband.
    We are blessed, indeed.

    • Terese Luikens on March 27, 2024 at 7:37 pm

      Good to hear from you Susan.

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