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Do My Words Improve Silence

15 April 2009 No Comment

Silence is perfect, unformed nothingness and stillness. Only in silence is there complete tranquility and peace.

Speaking both creates and destroys.

I create new form out of my thoughts and in doing so I destroy the perfect silence. Every time I open my mouth to give voice to my words I disturb the quiet by creating a vibration, a ripple in the still pool of silence.

I had better make sure I’m creating something of meaning!

A man of few words

I’m usually a man of few words which often triggers infuriation in others. Many times I’ve heard the person I’m with utter the words ‘Say something to me!’

Most of the time my lack of words means I have nothing to say that improves on silence.

No words of wisdom come to me. No insightful thought to share. No experience that might throw light on the situation. I choose to remain in silence rather than break it.

And that can be quite hard for others because we’ve been so conditioned that we tend to forget that speaking is optional. Noise and the human voice is everywhere –  radio, TV, gossip in the bar or cafe.

Chatter, chatter, chatter.

Most of the noise we create is a complete waste of energy that adds nothing except background static. The more static, the harder I find it to differentiate those voices worth listening to.

It’s not so everywhere.

A British friend of mine, a manager in a large company in Helsinki, told me an anecdote. One Friday evening he took his team of 3 or 4 people for a drink after work. They sat the whole evening in complete silence. My friend getting more exasperated, bored and worried they weren’t having any fun while his Finnish colleagues silently drank their beer. At the end of the evening they said goodbye and thanked him for a really great evening.

He sensed they meant it.

Sometimes the human voice can be beautiful and the words it produces life changing and I don’t necessarily mean in big ways. A simple warning call, a sentence of wise advice, a question that causes me to step back and think, an expression of gratitude from the heart, a sign of life beyond the passing thought of the moment.

I would like to reduce the amount of noise I produce and create more value when I express myself. I’d like you to do the same!

Some of these ideas might help:

1  Before opening your mouth

  • Ask yourself  ‘Will what I’m about to say improve on silence’?
  • Be clear what you want as a result of opening your mouth. I’ve heard it said that we only ever say 2 things – ‘Please‘ and ‘Thank you‘. At its basic level the first is ‘Please listen to me‘ and the second ‘I want to celebrate‘.
  • If you want to be heard, make sure it’s something of value about yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your deeper self. Ideally it’s valuable for me to hear, too!
  • If you want to celebrate, make that very clear. I enjoy an opportunity for a good celebration!

2   When you speak

  • Don’t overload me with stuff.
  • Give me a chance to listen by pausing when you reach a full stop or question mark.
  • Allow silence to hold your words and let me savour them.
  • Wait for my reaction before continuing.

3   Get interested in me

  • If I’m not asking any questions, I’m probably not curious and your ”please listen to me’ may fall on barren ground. Try asking me something instead of telling me!
  • If I’m talking and you’re no longer listening (for whatever reason), interrupt me and tell me you’ve stopped listening. Don’t waste our life force on ‘noise’. You may have been told it’s impolite to interrupt, but in my world it’s worse to fake listening to me.
  • Refuse to talk about someone who’s not present. They are not there to hear our feedback, learn from our observations or celebrate what they’ve brought to our  lives. In my value system this is one of the highest forms of disrespect.

4   When you’re not engaged in conversation

  • Notice what noise you use as background – TV? Radio? Music? Which adds value to your life and which numbs you to what’s really important.
  • Develop an appreciation of silence. The more you appreciate it, the less likely you are to disturb it with things that don’t matter.

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