Sound and Silence

Most people think of their communication as a tangible and clear output: words on the page, images and messages on a slide, words coming out of the mouth. And there is truth in that belief. Strong communication is a series of clear outputs. We spend a ton of energy here at The Latimer Group helping people and organizations generate that output, and improve the quality of the “sound” of their communication.

But there is a not-to-be-forgotten part of our outbound communication that is often just as important as our sound. And that is when we say or write nothing. Our “silence” is often just as important as our “sound.” And the best communicators I know have a strong combination of “sound and silence.” In other words, when they speak or write, their sound is powerful and effective. And when they choose NOT to speak or write, their silence is also powerful and effective.

Our silence has several significant and tangible benefits and impacts:

  1. Our silence has a powerful impact on others. When we step back and let others speak, we are letting those others have the spotlight, lead the conversation, make their point. This empowers those around us. And when we choose to be quiet and let someone else speak, that choice to share the spotlight also can build trust, as a demonstration of generosity and respect.
  2. Our silence has a powerful impact on outcomes. When we step back and let others speak, we give some oxygen to a conversation by allowing an exchange of ideas… which often may lead to a better answer. We also can use our silence to emphasize a point just recently made. The silence immediately following a major point let’s the point resonate. And in a more competitive setting, like a negotiation, silence makes the other person wonder what we are thinking, creating a discomfort that may tip the scales in our favor.
  3. Our silence has a powerful impact on ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be silent and still, we give ourselves time to regenerate, and our mind time to re-center. Our silence in a discussion with others gives us time to absorb what else in being said. And our silence when we are by ourselves gives us the ability to be more “in the moment.” In all cases, there can be a restorative power to our silence.

When you think about how you can become a more powerful communicator, of course you should spend time thinking about your sound. But you also should spend time thinking about your silence. Your sound matters. But so does your silence. And often, your silence can be the most powerful part of your communication.

Have a great day.

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2 responses to “Sound and Silence”

  1. Bridget says:

    As a mother of a child who is cognitively and verbally limited, communication is less about the words and more about body language. If I talk to much it can stress her because she cannot process fast enough or the tone and speed elevates her anxiety. I see similarities when I am speaking to neurotypical individuals . There times you are trying to get a point across and you need to let the other party respond/talk it out. There are times they understand they just need that moment to organize it in there mind for them to realize they agree or be able to provide a constructive argument. There is definitely a balancing act on what you are learning during that silence but then knowing when to speak.

    Thank you for the article

    • Dean Brenner says:

      Thanks for this note, and this perspective, Bridget. Silence is important for many reasons, as you so correctly point out here. Thanks for sharing.

      – Dean

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.