My father-in-law made me realize I should always say something of value. It shouldn’t be surprising that I learned this lesson from him. He rarely speaks, unless saying something of value.

He didn’t volunteer this lesson, it happened after my mother and I met for lunch. It was a few days after a birthday party for my boy.

She noted my father-in-law said nothing at all during the party. She pointed out he sat quietly, in a chair in the kitchen, observing all things going on.

I laughed, and then told her I thought he was really talkative, he said, “Hi!”

He never really says much, with a few exceptions. Occasionally he will talk your ear off, but it’s a rare occasion.

A few weeks later, when visiting him and my mother-in-law, I mentioned what my mother had said. I made sure to tell him my response, to which he laughed.

Without warning, he started talking up a storm telling me why he doesn’t say anything unless it’s something of value.

The story goes, he went over to visit a friend who was working on a problem with a tractor. As the friend worked, my father-in-law talked about people they both knew, while his friend said nothing at all.

When my father-in-law finally finished talking, his friend looked at him, and said, “The whole time you’ve been here talking, you’ve said nothing useful at all!”

My father-in-law first said he was stunned his friend would say such a thing, and then he got a bit irritated, right before he thought about it, realizing his friend was right.

That’s how my father-in-law realized he should always say something of value.

I can’t imagine my father-in-law talking a lot, it’s obvious why he rarely says much, but when he does, it’s always something of value.