Recently, I am sitting with a friend, her husband, and several other acquaintances. In the midst of a spirited conversation, my friend says to her husband who is known for speaking loudly, “inside voice, please.” There was something in her eyes at that moment that told me that she wasn’t really talking about the volume of her husband’s voice. A subsequent conversation with my friend revealed that her husband frequently speaks and reacts without listening to the subtle messages from others. It was a deeper kind of listening that she was trying to encourage with her comment to him. She wanted him to listen to the soft voice within that connects with the often unrecognized soft but emotionally powerful voice in others.
Often the whispered voice is present as you lurch from one aspect of a conversation to another, using your loud voice to make points that you perceive more important than those of others. It taps you gently on the shoulder when you least expect it. It whispers what is just beyond your awareness that is waiting to be discovered. Sitting on the edge, it hopes that you will make space for it to be heard. Putting the louder voice of self aside allows you to capture the newly opened space and the gifts that sit waiting to be unwrapped in more meaningful conversation. It takes courage to pause and resist the need to keep loudly talking your talk. When is the last time you broke the spell of the sound of your own loud talk to take notice of the softer, whispered voice within the conversation?
That evening my friend reminded me of how there is always something in every conversation waiting to make itself known. It is only when you stop using only your loud voice and listen in a different way that something new and unheard to that point becomes knowable. This requires that you put your ego in check and reserve opinion until the whispering voice is heard. Ultimately, when you listen to all that is not your loud voice is when you discover the most important part of life that connects you to another.