Up until now I've made the argument that the first line of defense when it comes to corralling speech - is corralling our thoughts. I absolutely believe that's true.
And while that's an awesome line of defense - there's a second line of defense that's actually so important it could be a second first line of defense!
So what is it?
A long time ago - I made a 1-800 phone-call and subscribed to Dover Press's book catalog (that whole sentence is soooo 1993!) Dover Press printed really cheap paperback copies of all kinds of books. One of the first books I bought was Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary". Ambrose Bierce was a lexicographer - someone who defined words - but he defined words humorously. Here's his definition of politics.
Okay - so clearly - he was a cynic. So now you know why I found him so funny. Possibly one of his best known and most quoted definitions is how he defined an egoist:
Now I think maybe twice in my life someone complimented me on being a great listener ... I'm not sure - I think I spaced out. But when I have listened - really listened - there was hardly a need to control my speech ... listening opened the door to understanding ... and understanding engineers some of the world's strongest bridges - don't you think?
If you search for Scriptures on silence or being silent - you'll pull up a list of over one hundred relevant verses. It was in silence that God confirmed to Jacob that Rebekah was the wife God had chosen for him, and it was on the eve of the Israelite's first going into the promised land - that God emphatically told them to be silent AND to listen. It is, after all, all too possible to do one and not the other.
Ambrose Bierce also defined a bore as "someone who talks when you want them to listen." and Fran Leibowitz who said "The opposite of talking isn't listening. It's waiting."
I confess I'm all too guilty of waiting instead of listening.
But if we really want to have gracious speech - speech that perfectly seasons the conversation - we have to not only be present in the conversation - but to have listened to it attentively enough - and kept our hearts so turned to God in the midst of it - that we can hear what part of that conversation needs salt - otherwise - we'll either in a lack of clarity blather and babble on and on meaninglessly - or - offer no words (aka. no salt) at all.
It's common on the internet nowadays to see graphics about how listen and silent are anagrams - as it was not too long ago to be told to carry on.
Maybe the reason Elephants never forget - is because they use those huge ears of theirs to really hear. Hard to recall what was never heard. Not only might we learn something we'd never heard before by listening - but we might also convey a level of interest and care in those who share their words with us - that alters both the speaker and listener. Here's a TED talk on that point - from TEDx Kelowna by Dr. Mark Holder, the head of the University of British Columbia's Happiness research team. Turns out - there's a way to listen that even has a huge impact on our own happiness - and it centers around just 3 words. Maybe merely listening - really listening - and not waiting - could not only give us huge insights on what kind of salty speech to utter - if any - but strengthen the relationships in which we can share such speech.