Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fewer Words Are Better - Martin Wiles

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Proverbs 17:27

Many words don’t necessarily equate with wisdom. 

One significant writing exercise I teach grammar students is how to write summaries. Summaries are just that. Writing one doesn’t entail putting the entire thing summarized in your own words. That is simply re-writing the article. 

Summaries should be no longer than one third the length of what is being summarized. They should be in the writer’s own words but written as if they are the author of the article. Writing a summary involves developing the ability to pull what’s most important from a piece of writing that contains more than the essentials. Summaries go after the meat, not the fat. 

Less is more. At least this is what the smartest man who ever lived said. Wisdom isn’t encapsulated in many words but rather in a carefully chosen few. I’m not always proficient with this task. Neither are many other folks I’ve encountered along life’s way. As I get older, I seem to find myself talking more rather than less and chasing many rabbits in the process.

When I talk, I can choose to be an expander or a condenser. If I choose the first, I may well overwhelm people with my many words and sharing of details. When I’m the second, I’ll only share what is absolutely necessary and important. 

I haven’t always mastered the art of using only a few words, but I’ve discovered through experience that it’s always better to think about what I want to say before I say it. This is especially true in marital relationships where the husband and wife are having a disagreement. Sudden emotionally filled words will only lead to further hurt. 

Being a person of few words also entails saying only what’s necessary. Expanders are known for the details they include…many of which are unnecessary. What's more, managing the few words I speak includes determining to speak only words that encourage and challenge, speaking only what you wouldn’t mind others repeating, and refusing to be parcel to gossip. 

What characteristics are the words you speak displaying?

Prayer: Eternal God, may the words of our mouths honor You and uplift others. 

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