How to communicate effectively – Shut Up

“Never miss a good chance to shut the hell up.” – Can’t remember where I read this.

Let’s talk horses.

1) Comfortable Silence.
The 100+ degree weather has recently pushed some of my riding into the early morning hours. And when I throw my leg over the first one and sit there… God is with me. I fit. That’s where I exist.

Comfortable silence.

During this silence I reflect upon what was done last with this horse. There’s only one thing to do with a horse every time you mount up – prepare the horse for next time. That’s it. You don’t have to get that turnaround just right today. Just prepare your horse to do that turnaround better tomorrow.

This quiet pre-ride lasts ten or twenty seconds these days. But it has a resounding affect on every ride.

2) Inquisitive Silence
“My horse just won’t take that right lead.”
“My horse just won’t stay calm when we go in the arena.”
“My horse just won’t cross over.”
“Man, I wish my horses were that nice. They’d be easier to train.”

That last one is my favorite. Especially since I think that J.M., Morgan, Mick and Dick really are raising nicer horses than half the market. But my foolish pride still let’s it get under my skin a little too much. 😉

Anyway, all of those quotes go back to the same problem. Too much telling and not enough listening. Not enough preparation. Every time anything is done with your horse, you should be listening for it’s response. And sometimes it is SO subtle. You can miss it. Sometimes, we may not even know we asked what we asked. 😉

It’s the same as the lesson any good English teacher told you about your writing:

  1. Tell them what your’re going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

In the horse world it translates to:

  1. Preparation
    • Teach a subset of what you will ask them to do.
    • Anticipate the horse’s possible wrong moves.
    • Teach corrections you can use to correct those anticipated incorrect moves.
  2. Ask the horse for the maneuver (Listening to it’s response! The horse will tell you what to do next!)
  3. Repeat subset quickly and rest – Or correct and repeat.

Too often its more like this:

  1. Tell the horse to do something they’ve never done before.
  2. Make life miserable for yourself and your horse.
  3. Tell the horse to do that thing you told him to do that the horse didn’t do. (Be sure you do it the exact same way you did it the first time)
  4. Repeat

What’s the biggest differentiator?

  • Preparation
  • Listening

And I don’t have to tell the horse folk how big of a difference it makes.

Isn’t life just like this? Rest and reflect wherever you exist. Prepare yourself for what you’re headed into. And listen while your there. God is in the mess telling you what to do next. Communication is more about preparation and listening than it is about communication.


Further Reading:
Communicate Effectively: A story about John Moon

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2 thoughts on “How to communicate effectively – Shut Up

  1. James, I really enjoy your writing;a gift from God. Of course, you know how much it means to me to have you and Tonni and Stoney and Ali being friends. Ya’ll are an inspiration to me; ya’ll give me hope for future generations. On horses, your writings are so true, I just wish there was more time in a day. Pray for rain.

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