Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Day 91: Enjoy the Silence

What do you do when you have a tough conversation?

This could be a personal conversation where you have to apologize for something, or confess something that you might have been hiding. It can be a business conversation where you have to talk about a tough budget matter or a mistake you've made in communication. Or it could be a job prospect where you are in the position of negotiating your salary.

All of these are tough conversations. What do you typically do?

Some of you might be like, "I don't have those. I avoid them." This post isn't for you. I don't think there's a blog post for that. It's just called "have them" or "don't be a wuss" or something like that.

Okay, so for those of us who have a modicum of courage or just know that our jobs rely on having those conversations, most people I know tend to ramble and overtalk because they feel uncomfortable. Is that what you do?

Today I learned an important less: enjoy the silence.

In a sound-drenched world, where we are constantly hearing voices or music, silence might as well be another planet. Being comfortable with it is extremely tough. Additionally, we tend to ramble in tough conversations because we want to find whatever words it will take to get the person or persons to be on our side again. The problem with that is we tend to talk ourselves into a corner, confuse everyone, and we just end up creating more problems than we started with.

So go and enjoy the silence. By this I mean be comfortable with the fact that it is a tough conversation by empathizing with the other person, focus on sharing what you do know with confidence, and know that you might not have all the answers. Then just be silent.

I think this is super tough, but the benefits of this approach seem clear:

  • You show that you understand the seriousness and care about the situation and the other side.
  • You keep your words clear and succinct, sharing the right information at the right time.
  • You don't confuse the other person or create more questions that just prolong the conversation.
  • You give the other person time to think and formulate their thoughts.
  • You let the silence close the conversation if need be. By this I mean that instead of talking a ton more, you may be able to simply say, "Alright, let's move on." 
I'm aware this is overly simplistic and may be tougher in personal conversations, but I think we would all do ourselves a favor if we chose against filling all space with our rambling locutions and sought to enjoy the silence (cue Depeche Mode).

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