I have never been a person of few words, but recently I had the luxurious experience of being mute for a little more than a week. It really sucked, because my job requires pretty much that I talk and write things down. After a day of attempting to grunt at customers I learned that whispering is both an effective means of communication and a way to make the illness last longer. So I made a feeble attempt at shutting up.
The first thing that I learned was most of what I say is unnecessary anyway. My boss had pity on me, since she had been voiceless a few weeks previous to this, and moved me to a position that didn't require talking to customers. I quickly found out that I could function quite well without speech. I found it to be almost a relief, instead of an annoyance. I know all my co-workers enjoyed it.
Listening is preferable to talking. Due to my extensive research in this area I can report that this is not in fact a crock of shit. I was much more productive when I had to listen to my supervisors without coming up with a response to everything that they said. My peers also enjoyed getting to communicate with a mute. They were very nice to me, and I realized it wasn't because I was sick. It was because I hadn't snapped at them or otherwise said something that pissed them off.
My brain is more useful as an information processor than a word processor. Since I couldn't speak and therefore had no reason to think about what to say, I learned that there are many more important things to think about. Lots of things, actually. I thought about my actions, my habitual manner. I thought about things that I had said, and things that I wish I hadn't. Some I wish I could eat, but I know that the people I've said them to would never throw the plate at me. I saw very clearly that the things I say and my subsequent actions reveal me as the liar that I really am. It is true that I hurt the people I love the most. I also have the talent of pissing them off with relative frequency. Either way, I'm a jerk. I thought about that a lot.
My voice is slowly returning, and, like the simple, stupid human that I am, I use it more and more. Not that all of my learning curve will become just another mile in the road. I have resolved myself to shut up and listen to the people that I care about without trying to respond the whole time. Then, instead of telling them something, I'll just do what I should. Actions speak. I'll try to do it right.