For years, I’ve encouraged people to speak up and speak out regarding matters important to them. I’m a big proponent of talking through problems, resolving conflicts through meaningful dialogue, and speaking frankly to bring people to greater self-awareness. But with all this talk about, well, talk, there are also important times when silence is essential.
In communications, silence is as important as trying to find the right words to gain buy-in or being cognizant of our body language and even listening attentively. There are times when choosing to save our words for ourselves is far more effective for our growth than saying what we feel. Self-talk—though largely practiced negatively by most of us (think: “I can’t do this” or “He must be out of his mind”)—can be self-motivating when done correctly. Thinking deeply about an issue and walking through all sides of it in an internal dialog can address those areas that one might feel uncomfortable sharing out loud with someone else. Provided you’re willing to be honest with yourself, these conversations can be life-changing.
Silence creates the space for focused problem-solving, goal-setting, and soul-searching. Too often, we act uncomfortable with silence. We tend to fill up those spaces with chatter that might otherwise be meaningless. Why? Is it that we don’t want to deal with the answers that we’ll have to face when the truth emerges? Are we shutting out those issues that keep cropping up but that we don’t want to address? Silence forces us to come face-to-face with hard truths, with reality.
Silence also helps us to sort through complex problems. It helps us to arrive at important answers. It helps us to create plans for our futures. It helps us to find calm and peace when life gets too hectic. Silence is not a way to avoid conflict. It’s not about giving the cold shoulder or being quiet because we don’t have anything kind to say. Silence is a powerful tool to get in touch with ourselves, to rise above distractions, and to find answers to questions we might not otherwise have thought to ask. So do this: Challenge yourself. Carve out a few minutes every day for a week to be silent. Listen openly and intently for the answers that lie within. Ask the hard questions. Then plan to act on what you hear. No matter how hard, if it’s the right thing for you, take the plunge. Face the truth and take the steps to make a difference in your own life. Here’s wishing you the best in silence and self-discovery.