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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Using the Gift

From Gone With the Wind:
Scarlett: Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war; this war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides... there isn't going to be any war.
Brent Tarleton: Not going to be any war?
Stuart Tarleton: Why, honey, of course there's gonna be a war.
Scarlett: If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door.

Just like Scarlett, from the moment we exited the womb, we southern girls were taught the gift of gab; the skill of conversing. BUT, we were also taught what polite ladies shall not, under any circumstances, discuss with others - politics, money, religion, sex; which, in my opinion, doesn't leave us much to confer on.

Our strict training in the ways of womanhood has resulted in two common outcomes:

  1. Southern girls often resort to whispering at a volume their friends and enemies alike must strain to hear.
  2. Southern girls tend to chatter on without thinking about what they are saying, but avoiding all controversial subjects.

Who among us hasn't had a girlfriend who talked so much that she never heard anything we had to say? She was always preoccupied thinking of what she would say next, and sometimes blurting it right over the top of our own words, as if she didn't even need us in order for the conversation to occur. And most of it was mindless twitter, anyway.

Who among us hasn't done that herself on occasion?

Raise your hand if you've ever tried to share an exchange with a woman who spoke so confidentially it was almost a secret from you, as well as the world. Leaning in as hard as one can to detect the almost inaudible mumble of a friend causes one to grow weary of the tete-a-tete, and usually just plain weary.

Are you are guilty of such quiet crimes? Am I?

The gift of gab is our southern discipline; thus, we must be disciplined about using it. We must not fear it. Our voices can make a difference in the world, without ever hinting at un-ladylike qualities.

First, we must break our bad habits. Those of us who speak in tones so low the earthworms can't even feel the vibrations need to find the courage to speak up and the discernment to know when to remain silent. Those of us who prattle on about this, that, and the other, but nothing of substance, should practice the art of breathing between sentences and phrases. Once that is accomplished, then we must learn to listen.

Second, we must decide how we will use our gift of gab to make the world a better place; the world at large or the world within arm's reach. Once we have honed and refined our gift, as our mamas and grandmamas would want, we will discover its power.

Third, remember to banter about the weather, the kids, the grocery store coupons, the car repair garage. It's good for us. Small talk makes the world go round.

The Final Word:
A study in the journal of Psychological Science found that people who spend time talking to others, having both deep conversations and sharing chitchat, report feeling happier than their silent counterparts. Therein lies the crux of the matter: If we are nattering on without pause or if we are emitting at a decibel for which the human ear is not tuned, then our partner in conversation is rendered to silence, and, therefore, not happy.

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