Got something to say?

One of the situations I struggle most with in life is people talking over each other in a group setting. How can anyone hear anything that’s being said? When several people speak at once, not much — if anything — is heard. It’s a chaotic situation.

After a tough work day in which I endured one of these types of meetings late last year, I was feeling unheard, disrespected, and hopeless. We attended our son’s Christmas concert that night, and I tried hard not to let the day’s challenges weigh me down. As we took our seats for the show, an edifying insight came to me.

Just prior to the start of the concert, each of the orchestra’s 50+ musicians tuned their instruments at the same time. The cacophony that resulted was less than harmonious and was rather disquieting. With so much disharmony going on, it reminded me of the meeting I attended earlier that day. I was anxious for the orchestra to improve its sound.

The show started and the orchestra sounded nothing like it did during the warm-up session. The same instruments that were disorderly and confusing just a few minutes before blended together to produce what I could only describe as heavenly and beautiful. The stressful noise of instruments carrying on without respect for the other instruments’ music was gone. The noise of confusion gave way to harmony and a coming together of sound in which each instrument had a part, something to contribute. Some were silent while others were not, then the roles reversed in a cadence of melodious harmony.

This doesn’t just happen, I thought. It requires practice and for each instrument to come together in harmony in a group setting and to let the other instruments play their part.

This is how it could be in group settings and in life, I thought. If we would just actively listen to what others have to say instead of looking for the slightest opening to interject our thoughts and opinions, more could be accomplished in the spirit of respect. We all have something of value to contribute, not just the people who speak the loudest or that have a bolder personality.

Each person in a group setting that has something to say should be heard, not talked over. Those who have a lot to say would be wise to listen to what others have to contribute. Everyone has a part to play in life. Are you playing yours?

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