The power of silence

Six ways silence can be used:

Build trust, Emphasise a point, Negotiate, Empower others, Get answers, Centre yourself

When we choose not to talk or not to speak out, we are taking a step in communication that is more powerful than speaking. Silence has a power that generally goes unnoticed unless we find an uncomfortable quiet when we are expecting conversation. That is a clear example of the impact of silence that can force us to be vocal, speaking out when perhaps we should stay silent

We may remain silent but we can show you if you’re paying attention

The moment that we speak is quite strange when you begin to analyse what happens at that moment. Unless we have learned a poem, song, script or narrative to recite, sing or publicly make an announcement, it is unlikely that we will have spent much time if any in planning what we are about to say at any given moment. It can somehow flow from us with an ease that is remarkable. That may be in response to a prompt such as a question, asking for something in a shop or directions to somewhere and spoken to a stranger. Yet they all emerge in what can be described as an automatic process, as though we have not spent one second preparing what we are about to speak.

In reality, it could simply be the lightening speed with which our brain can function in bringing a thought into our mind, that in turn creates a movement of our mouth, lips, tongue, a varying contraction of our vocal cords and the passing of our breath upon them, all in perfect timing. So precisely that they allow the formation of words that create coherent sentences, able to express anything from saying hello to describing a scientific theory or highly complex equation.

Hang on a second, this is about silence, isn’t it? It really is, but it was important to first be aware of the magic of being vocal and what it takes to make it happen.

I take a silent pause for a moment… 

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence
Leonardo da Vinci

Oh yes! Silence, that’s it, I knew there was a point to all this. I accept that we are al clear about the spoken word and speech in a general way, how we use it freely to communicate, sing and so much more. We also have a clear picture of silence when a partner, friend or colleague doesn’t reply when we expected them to. We can feel hurt or ignored, perhaps they just didn’t hear us. So we may choose to repeat our messages and continue without a response. We can feel and sense the power of silence in that moment. Not something that we will like or prefer as an alternative to speech.

I’m pretty sure that this is a clear way that most of us can relate to, that we have experienced once in our lifetime if not many more. But, I wish to take this a step further in the use of silence, where it can and is more powerful than the spoken word. How, by not choosing our words well when trying not to talk about something, we can actually say exactly what we are trying not to say.

What we can’t speak, we say in silence
Hillary Jordan

This was brought to my attention very recently about an action that is being imposed upon many to submit to, but I will not mention it – haha! Did you see what I did there? I was told by someone close to me, that they would not discuss a certain topic of conversation, in the knowledge that I did not agree. While I still do not agree I also believe that everyone has a right to make up their own mind about anything. I do not wish to encourage anybody to do something against their own beliefs or will, that would be so wrong on so many levels. In addition, I have never tried to push my beliefs on that person to make them do something against their own wishes. I was just a little disappointed that we were unable to discuss a subject due to a mindset I didn’t quite understand at that moment.

What was stated by that person carried certain words in a comment that actually told what they were trying to keep private? There is of course a chance that I might be wrong, but I really don’t think so. You could argue this is conjecture on my part and it would be hard to prove that wrong. In my defence, I would suggest that my instincts and feelings have proved to be a good measure of interactions and conversations I take part in. Time has shown me that I am more often correct than wrong. I do not include this to imply that I am some kind of mind reader or clairvoyant, simply that I trust myself above all else in this world today. It has got me this far in life and I’m not about to throw the baby out with the water now or ever!

As I have spent a reasonable time turning this over in my mind it emerges here and now. I give my view and opinion of how silence and not speaking out can have an impact that we don’t intend and might even tell what we don’t wish to reveal. There are times to speak out and times to be silent, knowing when is an art that we hopefully learn by our mistakes, or if lucky, be guided by another.

In the same way that we must choose our words and language carefully, we must also monitor what we do not decide to speak, what not to say and when not to be vocal. Remember how powerful not speaking can be and perhaps more so than speaking itself. All this can get amplified when we choose to talk over a phone or via a text emssage.

Silence can be used in good ways to create suspense related to a surprise or wonderful news, but can equally be hurtful or damaging, depending on circumstances.

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