Verbal Diarrhea – Using our Gifts Intentionally

My brothers & me – from L to R, Josh (hear no evil), Me (speak no evil), Joel (see no evil)

This picture is very telling of me. From as far as I can remember (and also hearing accounts from family members) I have always been blessed with an over-active gift of gab. Gregarious, you might say. Excellent communicator. Public speaker. Conversationalist. Talking seems very natural to me. My aunt has told me I can sell “ice to the Eskimos” (whatever that means) and I have had stints as an actor, a salesman, a speaker, and an admission counselor. So yes, my ability to speak is an asset to me, a gift, and a sense of pride.

Of course like others, my gift can also be my curse. And, yes sometimes, I spit out verbal diarrhea.Knowing once again I’m probably embarrassing my mom for TMI, it’s probably best to explain what I mean by verbal diarrhea (interesting note: I googled diarrhea just make sure I spelled it correctly but quickly wondered if I would be blasted with google searched images. Thankfully google has a filter). Basically, there are times when I just don’t think about what I’m saying (at least this is what Michelle says it sounds like). The fact is: I speak faster than I can think. I am a verbal processor. I have to sound things out… out loud. Sadly, I actually do try to think about what I’m saying but because I cannot internalize it, I keep talking and once I get going, it’s pretty hard to stop. I want to say it’s a 50/50 chance that what I say sounds- and is- profound and eloquent, or totally incomprehensible and confusing: verbal diarrhea.

Once, I told a woman, “Those jeans hide your weight well,” after she asked me how she looked (luckily she was a regular customer at the store where I was working, and she forgave me when I apologized. She probably thought that nobody would be dumb enough to say something like that). I really thought she looked great and was trying to find a way to say what I was thinking. Fail.  Growing up, I have told my parents multiple stories to hide the truth from them. Nothing that made sense really, but I thought it sounded good at the time. I don’t think I ever fooled my parents once.

And then there was tonight’s crap.

I was speaking to a guy at a local event who represents a really awesome non-profit. I was really impressed by their mission and products, but I wanted to help them with their visual brand as I felt it wasn’t matching the quality of their products and mission. Without even thinking about it, I basically started a conversation and then presumed to tell the guy (who I just met) that I thought his logo and overall look and feel of his organization was lacking. I was saying words, but it didn’t feel right at all. I kept saying more words to hopefully stumble upon a coherent point. Fail again. I don’t know the exact words I used, and this was coming from a place in me that wanted to help, but the look of embarrassment on Michelle’s face and the confusion on this poor guy’s face, finally snapped me into reality. What was I saying to him? Crap.

After coming to my senses I immediately apologized to him, to Michelle, and tried to keep quiet for awhile. First of all, I realize I had no right to criticize his organization at all. Who am I? Second, I realize that this is a pretty weak example, but it got me thinking: are there times where I am just running my mouth, insulting others, and not even realizing it? “Who cares?” you might ask. I think that’s just it. Most of the time, we don’t care. Most of the time we aren’t intentional about the words we choose,  we don’t care how others perceive or interpret what we are saying. We forget that words are powerful, game changers.

I have a feeling that there will be more instances like these to come in my life. Hopefully the number of these types of instances will decrease with age and maturity. As we prepare for our upcoming journey, meet new people, make new friends,  I hope people will understand that most of the time my words are trying to come from a good place.

-J

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2 thoughts on “Verbal Diarrhea – Using our Gifts Intentionally

Add yours

  1. Jedd-
    I know all too well this word vomit, I suffer from it too! I completely relate. The want to help, but help is not needed wanted or warranted. It ends up with you being the bad guy when there was no intention of it. I recently did something like this that really made me want to bury myself in a hole. Cheers to recognizing pitfalls and working to eradicate them. I’m right there with you. Enjoy your time in Jamaica, you guy will surely make a difference.

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