Shhhh… you can make this work for you.
I have been working with two powerful techniques lately and I have to say ya’ll, they have been working for me!!!
I am a talker. Growing up, I received lots of feedback about that in all forms, comments, criticism, impatient looks, none of it good. Oh, and being loud on top of that did not please the adults in my life. So glad that I am who I am in spite of those unsolicited opinions.
In conflict, however, that one, two combination definitely had to be managed and sometimes I was unsuccessful. Raised voices and long-winded explanations were not always seen as helping other folks gain more insight into my thoughts and feelings about the conflict.
Around the time I hit my forties, I became attracted to the power of silence. It is through my curiosity and admiration for other cultures and cultural norms that I was introduced to it. Back in my mediator days, I was often in debriefs about some of the barriers to using the process of mediation with different cultures. Asian cultures were almost always stereotyped as quiet, passive and not great candidates for the process. It was only a short matter of time before I set out to dispel the myths and help bring some solutions to the table.
The power of silence was one of the first things I was introduced to. Silence is an active process when you use it intentionally, though it is often mistaken for passivity. Using silence well allows you to manage your emotions, it can bring clarity, understanding and potential solutions. But it ain’t easy ya’ll, especially when you did not grow up like that.
Ohhh, but if you can take this on, it will change your conversations. I mean, for real.
But first, a few things that using the power of silence is not.
- It is not the silent treatment. No, we don’t use it to punish or ignore.
- It is not refusing to say anything. That’s a process that shuts down communication.
- It is not letting the person talk all they want and get their way. No, we don’t use this power to just get this conversation over with.
Sorry if I spoiled your plans.
The strategic use of silence is powerful because you know its purpose. You are using it to actually further the conversation.
First Power of Silence move is to decide that you really need to listen more in order to gain a deeper understanding. So, tune in and silence the thoughts in your head that are just screaming for you to GET IN THERE AND MAKE YOUR POINTS ALREADY! SHUT THEM DOWN!
Power of Silence Move Two is to really take it in. it may seem uncomfortable at first because we are so uncomfortable with even seconds of silence, we always have to fill the space, but don’t. Check out what happens when you don’t fill the space quickly. Absorb, think and then work to gain clarity before you speak.
Power of Silence Move Three is to speak and share that you want to understand so you are using silence to try to do that. When you think you are ready to break the silence, do that with a question to them in order to gain just a little deeper understanding of their feelings, thoughts, motivations and potential solutions.
Power of Silence Move Four is checking yourself and your emotions and see how they are wanting you to respond. Here’s where you use silence to understand yourself. What is coming up for me and what is motivating it? Is this the best way to say it? Will this move the conversation further forward? How do I express my emotions in the best way for the good and the real to come out of this?
When you combine this with the Power of The Pause (that’s next week), you have changed the outcome and most likely it will be in a good way. I know that it has been working well for me and I want to keep on practicing and getting better at it. Hey, I am still a talker, but I love silence and where it allows me to grow.
Are you growing with me?
Shhh… YOU can make this work for you.