By Catherine Hickem
In a world of overstimulation and constant interaction, we have become a culture that is scared of silence. Airpods and earphones keep a steady flow of information, music, entertainment, or communication going all the time. People eat dinner alone, but in front of their phones, so they are not alone. Silence has become the enemy of our culture when, in fact, it is where our power lies.
When we are silent, and we allow silence to surround us, something remarkable happens. We replenish our creative thinking, organize our thoughts, and nourish our spirits. It enables us to become centered and invites us to explore notions that become lost in the rush of life.
In business, silence is a powerful strategy. First of all, silence is an invitation to listen to both what is said and what is NOT said. Often, people miss out on important information because they are preparing their response instead of listening to what is said.
Secondly, many leaders are too busy trying to be heard when they would better off stepping back and becoming curious. The best Fortune 200 CEO I ever worked with was a man who was a man of few words. He has learned the skill of letting his silence be his brilliance. When he did say something, it was impactful, provided leadership, and was valuable.
Third, silence lets us think through our thoughts without competing with other input. Since multi-tasking is an illusion, our minds respond to the opportunity to singularly focus on a concept, goal, need, or person. Leaders who silence the noise to be still with their thoughts bring a more well-thought-out solution or idea.
Fourth, silence plays a strategic role when negotiating a contract. Salespeople who over talk are the ones who typically lose the advantage because it reveals a weak plan, insecurity, or lack of sales sophistication. Silence says one is confident in his offer or position.
Finally, the gift of silence typically reveals a person who is comfortable in his or her skin. They don’t have to be the life of the party or center of attention. They can bring an aura into a room that says they are willing to be a student of life, learning, growing and valuing those who are in their presence.