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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.
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