When was the last time you were truly silent for an extended period of time, during you did not sleep? Being silent can be scary and our monkey mind doesn’t like it that much either. Nevertheless, there are some ways how we can use silence to our advantage.
One of the best ways to use silence is actually during a conversation. Especially in coaching and in facilitation, silence can be a tool create a process. I like the illustration of our comfort zone. When people get too close to us, we tend to move back. On the other hand, if they move away from us, we are likely to get closer to them. The same can be done during communication. When I talk too much, I might drive away the person I am talking to. I fill out the room with my words. The other person has little chance to use the same space and will likely withdraw. However, when I stop talking and remain silent the other person has the room to talk. In addition, you will be perceived as a very good person to talk to =)
But it can be difficult. Even awkward at times. I think you also experienced a situation where there was an awkward silence and you just felt the need to fill that void. Here lies the difficult part, but also the biggest treasure. If you manage to hold this silence, sometimes for minutes, people will feel the need to say something. This can be especially helpful when the topic is difficult or intimate in nature. So, if you are truly interested in what the other person has to say and you want to increase your own understanding of the person and the situation, just shut up and remain silent =)
Another benefit of silence comes from remaining silent for an extended period of time, for example a day. I experienced such a silent day during different conferences and sometimes I do it on my own as well. Though, it can be scary. We can be our own worst enemy and our thoughts and what we tell ourselves can be frightening and hostile. That is why it is never wise to push through such a silent day. If you experience negative thoughts and you don’t know if you can handle it or you don’t want to handle it stop it and speak to someone or do something that improves your mood. Having said this, it is still a valuable method to gain insight into ourselves. Observing our thoughts and the emotions that accompany them will ultimately help you to better understand yourself and maybe others.
It is important that not speaking includes a few things. You shouldn’t talk (obviously^^). Not with others and not with yourself. It is always good to combine it with a technology detox. As it can get quite boring I recommend trying out different meditation techniques or reading interrupted by reflection times. Moreover, it is a wonderful way to recharge batteries. Take a bath or cook yourself a delicious meal, or just go for a walk and enjoy nature. You can also be silent together. This is especially helpful when you do it for the first time. Then, in case you want to stop it, you have someone to talk to and to reflect about the experience. Also, if you do it with a partner, it can be a wonderful experience that can strengthen your relationship as you will feel very close to your partner when your capacity to talk is limited.
Always keep in mind to be gentle with yourself.
Those are two of the main ways how we can use silence in our daily lives to create something positive. Are there other ways? Let me know in the comments below.
Have a wonderful day and take care =)