As human beings we need to feel connected to others. We are social animals and need positive interactions to keep feeling fulfilled and happy.
These connections don’t always come easily. We need healthy channels of communication in order to achieve connections with others.
Yet, interpersonal communication is challenging. It involves 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.
A moment of silence is a powerful communication tool. When I say “silence,” I don’t mean turning your back on 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 of silence
It can let the other person know that you are still there with them and 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, which 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,
“Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.”
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 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.