Less is definitely more

Maybe today listen more than you talk.  It reduces your own footprint, and gives others space. Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

On some days you are irritable.  Maybe it’s the days you have had too little sleep.  Maybe it’s when you feel that your underlying security is threatened, financial, domestic, or otherwise.  Maybe it’s when your chemical balance is out of kilter.  What is certain is that frequently, you will have the urge to hit back at the world, and tell it what you think.


However, shouting your concerns is rarely a good idea.  If you watch normal human behaviour, it is extremely rare for people to sit and listen to criticism with total equanimity.  How often have you raised your voice in upset, and the other person has said: ‘Thank you for shouting.  I very much appreciate your concerns and have now analysed my own behaviour.  I have decided to transform myself in response, and you won’t have any more hassle from me.’

My guess is that the above doesn’t happen very often.  Much more often – in fact, pretty much always – the other person will take offence.  If your intention is to help create peace around you, it may be better to operate under the policy of ‘less is more’.


There are a number of ways in which economy with words works better than ‘shooting your mouth off’.  Here are a few:

  • You never know what others are going through.  By holding back, you allow for other people’s internal suffering, and give it space.
  • Cognitively, humans are better at handling a few kind words.  Especially when we are tired, we can’t handle large amounts of verbiage, especially when we detect it is hostile.  We tend to switch off, attack back, or run away.
  • Being concise and thoughtful improves your own thinking and speaking skills.  It improves your future speaking, and your writing.  If you are interested in poetry or music, it can vastly improve your skills, since you are learning to say more with less.
  • Talking tends to tire you out and increase your blood pressure.  In contrast, learning to sit peacefully and listen tends to lower your blood pressure and help you rest.
AN EXERCISEJust for today, whenever you are in a conversation, see if you can manage to follow the following guidelines:

  • Begin from the view that there is no need for a specific outcome.  This reduces urgency.
  • Wish the other person well. This reduces animosity.
  • Listen more than you talk.  This reduces your ‘footprint’ on the conversation, and allows the other person to take more space.

We all get irritable.  We then get the urge to tell others all about it.  We even start telling them how they can change to reduce our irritability.

But talking less can be more helpful for others, and also has the effect of improving our own health and understanding.

Maybe try it today.