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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

What words come to mind to describe silence? "Awkward," "uncomfortable," or maybe "dead?"

Silence does not need to be negative. In fact, silence can be good and is a necessary part of the conversation - even for online discussions. Our SCN discussion forum moderators are especially good at standing back, and giving others a chance to answer questions and share their expertise.

Whether demonstrated by an intentional pause or peaceful reflection, silence communicates. 

It communicates:

  • Listening - Rather than being the speaker, choose to adopt a stance of listener - after all, it is the other important half of communication. (See Between You and Me: Think-Blog-Think)
  • Contemplation - Introverts need more time to consider and verbalize their thoughts. Show that you understand by not interrupting. (See Introverts and Extroverts - Who Cares?)
  • Respect - Show others you respect their expertise, and are authentically curious about what they have to say.
  • Empathy - Many times the response from your body language is louder and more appropriate than any words you can use.
  • Importance - Let the importance of what you have to say sink-in, by pausing and then checking in.
  • Control - You are really in control of your communication. You can choose not to interrupt or to use silence to draw out a response. (See Coaching for Leadership)

Silence is a good thing.  There is no need to fill it with words.

Here's a gem I found from one of my favourite 80's bands (Depeche Mode):

"Enjoy The Silence" by Martin Gore

Words like violence

Break the silence

Come crashing in

Into my little world

Painful to me

Pierce right through me

Can't you understand

Oh my little girl

All I ever wanted

All I ever needed

Is here in my arms

Words are very unnecessary

They can only do harm

Vows are spoken

To be broken

Feelings are intense

Words are trivial

Pleasures remain

So does the pain

Words are meaningless

And forgettable

All I ever wanted

All I ever needed

Is here in my arms

Words are very unnecessary

They can only do harm

...Now that you've taken a silent moment to consider some of these points :smile: , how might the use of silence impact your work?