Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Silence - How do you use it?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Silence - How do you use it?

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary gives three definitions for silence:

1 : forbearance from speech or noise : MUTENESS -- often used interjectionally
2 : absence of sound or noise : STILLNESS silence of the night>
3 : absence of mention: a : OBLIVION, OBSCURITY b : SECRECY silence>

Have you ever pondered how you use silence? Definition 1 points to a common usage of the word – as an interjection – think of the stereotype of the teacher yelling “SILENCE!” Rather a grim portrayal of the tool typically taught to aspiring coaches. Coaches are taught to use silence (forbear from speech) to see what else the client may have to say; to provide a space of acceptance; to portray intent listening. Silence is also the natural outcome of active listening. If the coach is listening to the client, she is not ready with the next question and a natural pause occurs.

A fellow coach suggests that we should listen not just to the words of our clients, but the silences. These spaces carry information on emotion, on truth and on what may be hidden.

We live in a world of noise – external and internal. The internal noise – the ever-chattering portion of our brain – makes it difficult to find ourselves, to find internal wisdom. Spiritual masters encourage us to use various forms of mediations to find the stillness within ourselves – allowing our wisdom or wisdom of our god to come forth. Alternatively, amidst the chatter of the monkey mind, can you turn your attention to the spaces between the thoughts? In the stillness of those spaces, what internal wisdom can you find?

Silence. Do you use it to quiet others? To encourage others to speak? As an element of active listening? As a carrier of the truth? As a vehicle for your internal wisdom?

How do you use silence?

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