I’m a slow thinker. It’s common for me not to have anything to say; no brilliant critique to add. I’m of no interest in a debate. I prefer to go away, turn ideas over in my head, write about them, come to a conclusion and then get back to people. Sitting quietly, listening while everyone else is engaging in a lively discussion can make me feel like the slowest person in the room. Coming to terms with this has been a struggle.
Your first take can be (and is often) wrong. Hesitancy to respond should be seen as an act of care, not indifference. A tendency not to contribute can be problematic though, when taken to the extreme. Not speaking up, even when you something is important to you is equally as problematic as speaking up too much.
Our first thought is generally a habitual one. Something unpracticed and poorly thought through. This response may be rooted in our own insecurities, vaguely understood beliefs or misunderstandings. It takes us listening deeply, questioning and conversing to genuinely understand another. Listening well requires the wholeness of your attention. You can’t be working on a response in the background.
What we need is space and time. Two things that feel as though they are in short supply. We feel as though we need to rush to an outcome. We feel as though we need to have all the answers.
It’s better to let your thoughts flow throw the Sieve of Time. What’s left will be the part worth saying. In the mean time, ask questions and listen wholly.
When we hesitate and think slowly, it shows we care. It shows that we are concerned with saying the thing that is most helpful. It shows we are concerned with how people receive what we have to say.
Hesitation should not be viewed as a sign of weakness, or stupidity. We should receive it with gratitude, and give the other the space they need in order to construct and properly communicate their thought.
If not speaking up is your habitual state you may be doing yourself and those around you a disservice by not speaking your mind. There are two reasons why, I personally, don’t speak up as much as I should:
- I don’t trust my first reaction. It’s generally overly critical and simplified;
- I’m concerned with how people perceive me, and how I make them feel.
The reality here is that this can leave me feeling resentful that my opinion wasn’t considered. It’s important to trust your gut, but to discern what is important and worth sharing in the moment from what isn’t.