As human beings we need to feel connected to others. We are social animals and we need positive interactions to keep us feeling fulfilled and happy.
These connections, however, don’t always come easy. We need to have healthy channels of communication in order to achieve connections with others in our personal and work lives. Yet, interpersonal communication is challenging. It involves different people with different perspectives and personalities — not to mention a host of different emotions! — which all impact our interactions. Add in our hectic lifestyles, an overuse of technology, and a noisy world, and things are even more complicated.
But we must not give up just because it is challenging. Instead, I encourage you to learn more about the process of interpersonal communication. I want to share one tool:
The Wisdom of Silence
A moment of silence is a powerful and effective communication tool that we all possess. Yet, many of us don’t apply it because it can make us feel uncomfortable. And when I say “silence,” I don’t mean turning your back away from another person or not saying what you truly mean. Instead, stop and pause a few seconds before you respond. Don’t be afraid of a few seconds or minutes of silence. A pause in conversation can let the other person know that you are still there with them, but considering their thoughts. Instead of jumping to conclusions or immediately offering advice, you are simply being open to what they have said.
I have tried this in both professional and personal relationships and I am always amazed by the results. I remind myself to close my mouth and not say anything. Instead, I listen more and ask only a few questions. This results in far more information being shared by the other person — an offering I would never have heard if I was still speaking. We are then able to continue in a more open and sincere conversation.
There is a Spanish proverb that says,
I encourage you, the next time you find yourself having a conversation with your spouse, child, parent or colleague, to pause instead of reacting to what they have just said. Invite the wisdom of silence to take over for a few seconds. It may be uncomfortable, but don’t rush it. Let it happen naturally and you will be amazed at the outcome.