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The Power of Silence

Silence is powerful. Incredibly powerful.

Let's remember our elementary school — seventh grade, murmuring in the benches. The physics professor tells us something, but most still don't listen to him. But at one point he shuts up and looks at us. The murmur disappears, and panic forms in the minds of us students - will there be a flash test or a random examination?

Silence is a powerful tool with which we communicate. With it, we amplify what we say, give ourselves time to form the following sentences in our thoughts, get the full attention of those who listen to us, and allow them to absorb what we say. That silence is stronger than words. And that's why we have to use it in our communication.

Photo by Sound On

Communication is the glue that holds all of humanity together. Without it, no one would express or understand our thoughts, ideas and needs. Communication is not only the words we speak, but a series of processes that include words - all that they mean in the conveyed and actual meaning and non-verbal signs, movements, facial expressions and sounds - their volume, modulation, and tone.

But the most powerful of all is silence. Very often she speaks louder than the spoken words. We easily recognize silence. It occurs when sound waves no longer enter our ears.

Different meanings of silence

Silence is not interpreted equally by different cultures around the world. Sometimes it is a sign of respect, somewhere else it is a show of disinterest or just a desire not to communicate anymore.

It can be positive and negative. The positive helps us to move our communication forward, to change the topic of the conversation or mark its end. Negative is the one that interrupts communication and reflects hostile attitudes. It signifies coldness and interruption of conversation when we are overwhelmed by strong emotions.

Silence as a communication strategy

Silence is not the end of communication. It can be a useful communication strategy.

In communicating with silence, we send messages non-verbally - with facial expressions, gestures, body position and speech. We use words, speaking face to face, over the phone or virtually. We write messages to each other through writing letters, messages and documents. We use visuals, images and movies to share our ideas. And we listen to understand and understand others.

Communicating in silence has its advantages. When we are silent, we can listen to others, they can feel that they have our attention, and we can use it to express the satisfaction of a relationship. Silence helps us not to raise misunderstandings to a higher level of tension.

We listen in silence

Silence encourages us to actively listen. Effective communication often breaks down when the listener makes up his answer instead of listening to what the other person is trying to say. Taking a stance and focusing on the deeper meaning of what others are trying to tell us helps us to understand and comprehend before we make a judgment or respond to what we have heard.

Silence helps successful negotiation. When used in certain moments when we are negotiating with the other party it can show surprise and concern as well as rejection. But it can also convey confidence and strength. And it can give space to others to express their opinion.

Recognizing the right time to ask questions and when to leave room for others to speak ensures a positive atmosphere in negotiations.

Good and bad silence

But you should be careful. Although silence is beneficial, it can also have negative consequences. It can cause anger or hostile feelings, it can confuse the other party if they ask you specific questions. It can also be toxic when it turns into a "silent mass" - the interruption of communication to punish the other party with that silence. It can have a bad effect on self-esteem and damage good relationships. And those among us with narcissistic traits often use this tactic to manipulate others.

That's why the real question is how to use silence. Although it is a highly productive communication tool in itself, it is good to use it in the right way.

Use gestures with silence. Look at others, strike a pose that shows interest, and show others that you are giving them time to respond or space to absorb and understand what you are saying.

Use pauses during the conversation. Don't paste sentence upon sentence that goes on endlessly. When asking rhetorical questions, don't answer them immediately and if you ask the audience, give them time to come up with the right answers.

Silence as an amplifier

Use silence for its effect. Silence amplifies everything you say. When you say something important and powerful, allow the silence to help those listening absorb what you are saying.

Practice active listening using silence. When you are quiet in talking and listening, try to make a conscious effort to understand those thoughts, feelings and ideas of the person speaking to you that are not immediately visible. Try not to use silence as a means of punishment or manipulation.

Often silence is louder than words, but that is only when they are used effectively. Whether talking to friends, negotiating a job or lecturing others, it is important to use silence at the right moments to raise our communication to a higher level.


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