I have concluded that someone who understands the value of silence is wise. I find so often that silence can be misinterpreted as awkwardness, the other person must have nothing to say, is shy, and/or isn’t intelligent. And I’ve noticed that individuals who see silence as a weakness or a bad thing are the ones always speaking, filling discussion gaps with useless chatter, and are not listening the the verbal and nonverbal cues of the other person. I’m still learning that silence is necessary. Here are a few examples of when it is wise to embrace silence. Example 1: Silence with self. I think this is most important. Very often my mind is racing 100 mph. I’m thinking of all the things I’d like to ambitiously accomplish while trying desperately to find thanks in everything and be present. Not possible. So when I get the chance, I have to be still, sit, and silence my mind. When thoughts come, I kindly tell them to go. I practice this in yoga so I can at least say I accomplish this once a week. Example 2: Silence during professional and personal discussions. We all engage in discussions either with colleagues, partner, family, or friends. My tendency is to want to speak thoroughly what I think and feel. However, taking a back seat and actively listening to others can be beneficial because others may have better ideas and I may learn something. Anyways, not always having the first and last word is character building. Example 3: Silence after you ask a question. It’s important to give people time to process your question. Even though the silence may seem long; it’s okay to sit still during it. People have different processing times. Example 4: Silence during negotiations and difficult conversations. I still need to remember that once I put out a number (program cost, salary proposal, etc.), I need to be silent. Also, if someone is apologizing, I need to be silent. Often I want to quickly follow-up and say, “I know… it’s a lot to ask,” or “It’s okay…” In sum, silence can be a powerful and effective tool to implement different situations in our lives.
Where in your life do you need silence? Are there are times when silence is necessary?