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BIG MAMA SAID: Examine what is said, not who is speaking

David Grossman and Terry Allen
David Grossman and Terry Allen Photo: Terry Allen

Our current popular culture is filled with combatant noise thereby the words of Lucille “Big Mama” Allen continue to empower and resonate: “Examine what is said, not who is speaking.”

Big Mama was a source of simple wisdom and unchanging faith in my family, touching the lives of her sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her values have inspired me to focus on the message rather than the messenger, reminding us that valuable information often hides behind personal biases. This marks my third year sharing my lessons from Big Mama’s stories.

Big Mama’s wisdom was rooted in a simple yet profound truth – the significance of paying attention to the message, regardless of the value you place on the messenger. She believed that every individual possessed the potential to teach us something, even if we didn’t particularly value that person

I have been in a room where my message was attacked not be- cause it was a bad message, but because I was the deliverer of the insight. In a world where everyone is eager to speak, Big Mama emphasized the importance of listening. She believed that we talk too much and don’t listen enough. By examining what is said, not who is speaking, we can learn valuable life lessons.

Big Mama’s first lesson is about mastering the art of listening. To truly understand a message, we must be quiet and listen attentively. When we silence our own thoughts and ego, we create space to appreciate the wisdom in others’ words.


The second example teaches us to ask clarifying questions. Before moving on from a topic, it’s essential to ensure that we fully get the message. Big Mama often said that true understanding comes from asking questions, not making assumptions. Big Mama’s third example tells me to focus on what is not being said and what is ‘seen”. She believed that we should pay attention to body language, emotional pauses, and references to other people. Sometimes, what’s not said speaks volumes.

I am reminded of the wisdom of award-winning communications expert David Grossman’s The “7-38-55 Rule.” David, an awesome mentor/colleague, ally and Founder and CEO of The Grossman Group further reinforces Big Mama’s wisdom.

In his book, Heart First, he shares the 7-38-55 rule, where only 7% of meaning is conveyed through words, while tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) provide the rest. Incongruence often reveals what is not being said.

Lucille “Big Mama” Allen was a beloved matriarch powered by her wisdom and faith.

Big Mama” was right.


She taught me to prioritize the content over the messenger. Her lessons remind us not to rush to judgment or dismiss valuable insights simply because we don’t like the speaker. By examining what is said, not who is speaking, we open ourselves to better outcomes.

Ok readers, have you lost the lesson because you hated the messenger? If so, tell me about it email me at TerryAllenpr@gmail. com

Terry Allen is an NABJ award- winning Journalist, DEI expert, PR professional and founder of the charity – Vice President at FocusPR, Founder of City Men Cook and Dallas Chapter President of

Written By

Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media. Reach him at


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