Eschew Frivolous Talk. Seek Meaningful Conversation

Morgan quote Frivilous Talk
Photo: Rebecca Morgan, atop one of the 3000+ temples in Bagan, Myanmar


Frivolous: unworthy of serious attention; trivial; of little value.

“And then he said…then she said…and then…and then…” and on and on. Have you been on the listening end of frivolous talk? You know it when you hear it, when someone prattles on and on about people you don’t know, will never meet, and don’t care about. Or when someone keeps talking and talking, saying little, perhaps even repeating themselves. A friend has a saying for this: “I’m just talking here — not saying anything.”

Have you found yourself spending time involved in — or listening to — more frivolous talk than you’d care to? I know I have. But I also had an experience that made me realize how much I contribute to frivolous talk.

I was attending a multiple-day off-site personal growth workshop. We’d been told that this workshop could be life-changing if we followed the guidance of our facilitators 100% while we were there. I trusted these leaders, so I did the exercises fully.

The first day we were told there was to be no frivolous talk. In fact, there was to be no talk at all outside of our workshop room, other than to discuss logistics issues (e.g., car pooling). In other words, we were to be silent.

I was struck by how many times I’d think about chatting with my classmates about unimportant things—the weather, her pretty jacket, could he pass the salt. I saw how much “noise” I contributed. These things weren’t really important, or I didn’t need to speak to communicate them.

By forcing us into silence, we saw how little of our usual babble really needs to be said. When the silence was lifted a few days later, we were much quieter than we’d been before. When we did speak, it was to ask a deeper question, or to share a meaningful insight.

Although I’ve drifted back into some chatter, I talk less now than before.

Why don’t you try it? You don’t have to be silent, but think about what you say before you say it. Ask yourself “Does this really need to be said? Will it make a difference to my listener?” If not, then button it up! 


Life's Lessons: Insights and Information for a Richer LifeThis is excerpted from Life’s Lessons: Insights and Information for a Richer Life.