It appears there’s just a little bit of seething resentment about ladies who jabber during Relief Society and other meetings. However, it also appears that most women admit to being guilty of doing this at some time or another. It’s hard to point a finger when the rest of your fingers are pointing back at yourself.
In any case, here’s what Meridian readers have to say about babbling adults (who should know better):
Thank you for choosing this topic because it has been one of my pet peeves for years. What has happened to manners? Are there none anymore?
This happens so much in our Relief Society. Sometimes people get so loud (not even whispering) that I can't hear at all. Our Relief Society never uses a microphone, and many sisters are hard of hearing anyway. I was always taught not to speak when someone else was, let alone a teacher.
It is rude to talk while she is trying to teach. It is being disrespectful. How do we teach grown women about manners?
G.C. From North Carolina
I hope we’ve all been taught our manners, G.C. At least, those of us who are older have been taught them. Younger people live in a more casual age, and I’m not so sure about them. I think the question is remembering what we’ve been taught. I hope some of the letters in this column will come up with helpful ideas for all of us.
Most of my adult life, I've been a "church widow." I've always preferred to sit near the front, even when raising my children. It's a lonely place to be now, but otherwise I can't see and hear anything. Most of the women my age (empty-nesters) sit together in the back of the chapel, Sunday School class, and the Relief Society room. They seem oblivious to the effect their chatter, laughter, and inattention has on others. I already feel isolated in this ward, and can't imagine myself asking them to be quiet.
I know what you mean, Sitting, about not being able to imagine yourself asking people to be quiet. I feel the same way. It’s hard to ask adults to mind their behavior, and I haven’t found a way to do that. Short of blowing a police whistle to get everyone’s attention, I usually hope they’ll get tired of talking on their own and start listening to the lesson. The police whistle is a tempting idea, though.
My name is Faith. I have had personal witness to ladies whispering in church. It is the nature of the beast, I am sure. Women cannot, for the most part, remain silent. We are always bursting at the seams.
I have been guilty to this whispering from time to time, but have prayed to the Savior and worked very diligently to be more reverent, especially during the sacrament hour.
As I have lessened my whispering to the barest of minimum I notice a particular pair of ladies that whisper constantly. They laugh and giggle and I know it carries throughout the chapel. They think they are being silent. Giving them “the look" does nothing to stop them. Even if they are separated, one or the other will find someone else to 'whisper' with.
I make it a personal thing to not sit by either sister in Relief Society or Gospel Studies. I sit with my spouse in sacrament meeting, of course.
The bishop has asked us over and over to not be noisy — even before sacrament. When we enter the chapel, we need to stop talking and take our seats and pray silently and be reverent. But, it seems that every ward I have ever attended, it is noisy, and we never seem to get started with the sacrament until ten after the hour. Along with the children being noisy and the whispering, there is little chance for the Holy Spirit to visit. Not doing what the bishop asks us is being disrespectful to him and to God.
I particularly appreciated what you wrote about women “always bursting at the seams,” Faith. I think it is that enthusiasm rather than any intentional disrespect that underlies the behavior of some of us to talk when talking is inappropriate. Intentional or not, however, it is disrespectful. Thanks for the reminder.
I've been on both sides of this dilemma and find that "charity never faileth." As the whisperer, it would behoove me to think carefully of those around me and keep it to a minimum of truly needed communication. As an irritated neighbor, it would be well for me to exercise patience and charity, giving the benefit of the doubt to my sisters.
What beautiful sentiments, Been There! Thanks for writing.
I myself have been guilty of some whispering during church, when not appropriate, thank you for posing this question.
I am reminded of what they ask of us in the temple, to please refrain from talking during the ceremony, but if we have to, to do so in a quiet manner. I’m wondering if it would be helpful to just write a short note to the sister, or brother we want to “talk” with?
I actually have had a teacher stop and ask the person who is talking to the person next to them, if he/she would like to share with the class. This has usually reminded the person that it’s not proper to interrupt the teacher, or if this happens during the taking of the sacrament, take away from the spirit/someone’s worship.
I think it would be ok, with a kind look on your face, to turn around and put your finger to your lips, thus telling the person not to talk. If this still doesn’t work, perhaps ask the teacher before the class, or phone the teacher, and give some suggestions, or ask how this can be addressed.
Formerly from Vancouver Island
What a great idea, to pass a note instead of “whispering” if conversation is needed. I’ve been trying to carry a notebook and pen to church lately, just to write down ideas that come during the meetings. Now I have an extra incentive to remember to take it with me.
I too have been bothered in Relief Society when other sisters are talking or whispering because I am a little deaf (although not elderly.) First, I try to discern if they are talking to a visitor (we have a lot of investigators in our ward regularly), because that is understandable. But if not, I try to smile along with giving a look that says "please stop." It usually works, but I use it sparingly so that others don't think I'm too sensitive or uncaring.
Allison in Atlanta
A smile always helps the medicine go down easier, Allison.