“Have the maturity to know that sometimes silence
is more powerful than having the last word.”
– Thema David
Do you remember the last time it happened? It was uncomfortable to say the least. Eyes looked nervously about the room. At the ten second mark it was unbearable, and then, thank God, the silence was broken. Someone spoke up. A sense of relief swept over the room, the silence had ended. There were two powerful lessons to be gained through that experience:
Silence is Powerful
Silence Fosters Communication
Communication is the bond that connects people. It enables us to express our thoughts, ideas and needs, and it fosters understanding.and collaboration. Some might say that it’s an absolute necessity for our survival; it is! But communicating involves more than the words we speak. It’s an intricate process that utilizes verbal and non-verbal exchanges sharing a common goal; enabling others to understand how we think and feel. However, when one considers all forms of communication, one of the most powerful forms is silence, because as we all know, “Sometimes silence speaks louder than words”.
Silence is often regarded as an absence of communication. Ironically, it can be one of our most powerful tools for fostering communication. When used intentionally, silence can be used to create a safe space for others to share their thoughts and feelings. It can also be an effective means of conveying messages and building trust. So how is this accomplished?
Creating a Safe Space – Silence can provide a safe space wherein individuals can speak without fear of interruption or criticism. When people are given the opportunity to speak without interruption or judgement, honesty rises to the surface. They are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings.
Reflection and Processing – Silence can also be used to create space for reflection and processing. Greater insight and understanding are enabled when people are given time to reflect on what they have heard or said. This can be particularly useful in situations where emotions are running high, and individuals need time to process their thoughts and feelings before responding.
Conveying the Message – Silence can be a powerful means of conveying messages. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Your silence speaks volumes.” The strategic use of silence does just that! For example, a moment of silence can be used to show respect and honor for the deceased (“Let us take a moment in memory of those…”), or it can be used to convey a sense of gravity and importance ( The CEO begins the meeting by remaining silent and making eye contact with each member of the leadership team, After what seems like an eternity she says, “What we do or do not accomplish here today will determine the future of this organization.”)
Empathy and Understanding – We can use silence to convey empathy and understanding, which are key components to building trust. When we are silent, we are often more focused on the other person and their needs. This silence can actually help create a sense of shared experience. When two people share a moment of silence together, they are both participating in the same experience. This can be a powerful bonding experience, creating a sense of connection and shared understanding.
We live in a time of instantaneous communication. On a daily basis we are subjected to continual bombardment of texts, email, and information flowing from a constant connection to the Internet. As we navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, it’s important to remember the value of silence in fostering effective communication. Not only can it speak volumes, but silence often lets us connect with others in meaningful ways that are beyond words.
Embrace the Challenge.