“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” Herman Melville
On Instagram I follow #imageofcanada, #explorecanada #welovecanada and #splendidcanada. The images on these sites entice people to visit Canada to experience the beauty of our “silence land”. There are images of people looking stress-free with heightens level of pleasure.
It is certainly good publicity because, as a professor, I see students everyday that appear to live in a loud world where music and smartphones fill the void with white noise. Silence is replaced by the buzz of technology with text, email, Facebook and. yes dare I say, Instagram.
Renowned scholar Edgar H. Schein explained in his book Humble Inquiry (2013) that “knowing things is highly valued, and telling people what we know is almost automatic because we have made it habitual in most situations”.
To use silence is almost admitting ignorance and weakness.
I beg to differ.
Here are three ways that you can use silence to your benefit and that of others.
Wisdom and empathy: With silence you can reflect on the information. It forces you to think about what you want to say. Your answers are likely to be more thoughtful.
Charisma: People want more than anything to be heard and be understood, and will find anyone who provides them that feeling to be powerfully charismatic. By using silence you are allowing the spotlight to be on others.
Self-Management: Think how much more in control you would be if your first response upon hearing something that sparks a strong reaction in you wasn’t to lash out emotionally but instead to become silent?
Try these two easy steps on your path to silence.
The next time someone is upsetting you, close your eyes and imagine a rough sea with very tall waves. When you allow yourself to become upset you react, tell others how things should be and become emotional. Instead use silence. Using silence is akin to being at the bottom of the rough sea where nothing is upsetting you. Using silence helps you not to become entangled in the waves of life.
Tonight, have a conversation with a loved one. In a span of 15 minutes, use three carefully placed silences of 7 seconds each.