Saying More By Talking Less

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Silence has a power all its own. When we’re silent we’re not being unresponsive, instead we’re allowing our thought process and intuition to sort things out before we speak.  Silence is not a weakness or a refusal to see a problem, it’s harnessing our inner calm in a heated moment so we don’t say things we later regret. Silence is not ignorance of a situation and calmness is not acceptance of an injustice. Silence and calmness are a sign of strength and courage and both are needed before any action is taken.

Some people are so uncomfortable with silence that they continue to talk even if they have nothing meaningful to say. They not only stress the people around them but completely miss the gifts silence has to offer. I appreciate a person who knows the power of silence because, when used with intention, it’s a communication superpower. When I was teaching high school, I used this in the classroom. If I was quiet students immediately knew to pay attention – no words or raised voice needed. A silent stare was a reminder to someone who had momentarily forgotten our agreed upon class rules.

Let’s look at some of the gifts of silence. The Dalai Lama wrote, “When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Silence can be the doorway to wisdom. When we give our full attention to whoever is speaking, we’ll better understand their message and our reaction to it.

Research indicates active listeners create stronger relationships built on connection and trust.  Silence enhances observation skills so we are aware of our surroundings and understand the situation better. It allows us to put ourself in the other person’s shoes which improves our conflict resolution skills.

Silence gives us time for reflection and promotes healing when we take time to go deep within ourself. Luminita D. Saviuc writes, “Silence is a precious gift we give ourselves. In that space between our words, not only do we find ourselves, but we can also hear our own heart talking to us, our soul and intuition.”

When we’re quiet we can concentrate our focus which promotes clarity and enhances decision making skills. This is especially helpful when a nasty social media post arrives that we completely disagree with. Rather than respond with more anger, let’s give it the silent treatment and stop that negative energy. People who are dealing with loss or illness just want to be heard, and empathetic listening is sometimes all that is needed. Unwanted advice only adds more stress to the situation.

Research also shows that quieter people are better at managing their emotions so knee jerk reactions are avoided and composure is maintained, even in difficult situations. Resilience is also increased. Quiet people can be better communicators because their thoughtful approach means their words clearly convey their message. They are also more flexible in new situations.

Sometimes silence is more powerful than words and inevitably can never by misquoted.  It helps to remember that words are sacred and need to be carefully chosen.  Also, let’s remember silence is sacred. So, let’s use words when we have something valuable to say and learn the power of saying more by talking less. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The key is balance between silence and speaking. Let’s try more listening and less talking and see what happens. This communication superpower is at our disposal.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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