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So Much Time Talking ... But Never Communicating

Rhea Zakich was forced not to speak for months after her doctor found polyps on her vocal cords. Although they were removed and she made a full recovery, the experience affected her. Unable to speak for that long period, she wrote what she wanted to say on cards. Sometimes when she saw in black and white what she planned to say, she immediately threw it in the trash.

The cards grew into a game (The Ungame) which has since sold 4 million copies. Some cards were light-hearted and some serious. Her husband drew a card that said: "Share something that you fear." He said slowly to the boys, "With your mother ill, I worry what will become of us. I don't know if I could bring up you boys alone." Rhea was astonished that her husband could express his fear and self-doubts.

Through the time of her enforced silence, Rhea learned to really listen to others instead of immediately responding. One day her son, Dean came home from school shouting, “I hate my teacher! I’m never going back to school again!” Rhea said:

Before my vocal-cord problems, I would have responded with my own outburst: “Of course you are, if I have to drag you there myself.” That afternoon I had to wait to see what would happen next. In a few moments, my angry son put his head in my lap and poured out his heart. He said “Oh, Mom, I had to give a report and I mispronounced a word. The teacher corrected me and all the kids laughed. I was so embarrassed.” I wrapped my arms around him. He was quiet for a few minutes. Then suddenly he sprang out of my arms. “I’m supposed to meet Jimmy at his house. Thanks, Mom.”

My silence had made it possible for Dean to confide in me. He didn’t need advice or criticism. He was hurt. He needed someone to listen. We all spend so much time talking ... but never really communicate.

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