Silence and listening what powerful words

Do you struggle with silence between people?
Do you ever regret saying something?
Can you distinguish between saying something of value and saying something for the sake of speaking?
What is the difference for you?

Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something. Plato

Recently, I was working through a book ‘Soul Shift’ with a group and one chapter focused on changing from ‘asking’ to ‘listening’. Silence is something that many of us struggle with, we live in a noisy, fast achievement driven world. It is all about do, do and do to the detriment of a moments quiet silence.

Soul Shift an amazing book with a chapter on changing asking to listening

I used to struggle with silence between people, I am now comfortable with holding space, and silences. What drives me crazy is when you are in a situation and someone has offered a comment which you are assimilating – and they blab on and on. Or someone else jumps in that moment for their ‘say’.  It is in that silence that we show respect, process and choose our response.

Yes, I regret many times saying things – when I jumped in making assumptions, thinking I was in the right. On the other side after my late husband passed away people just did not know what to say. Silence and a hug would have been wonderful, yet often others find it difficult to allow that silence. There is a void and they feel they must fill it with words. Or they blab about inconsequential things to cover their embarrassment. I think we are a ‘grief illiterate’ society (thanks to Steven Jenkinson for the phrase). With awareness, comes the opportunity to right that or if they have gone to heaven, to do it energetically.

There is a huge difference between saying something of value and something for the sake of speaking. Sometimes that value can be non-verbal, simple silence or a hug. Words of value are meaningful and supportive ones sprinkled in between those in the conversation. It may be words of encouragement.

What sharpened my listening skills was Toastmasters. Their evaluation process has been invaluable to me. Have you heard the saying listening to break in or listening to hear and contribute? I call that active listening.

Recently I became aware of the Virtue Project (an excellent guide to empower children – it also works with adults. It works on building each other up instead of putting each other down. It contains virtues honoured by all cultures and traditions as the best within us, for our highest good.) The world is full of prattlers many of whom have verbal diarrhoea. Others rush is because they don’t know what to say as in dealing with grief, or if they are nervous about something.

The difference for me is listening to hear and contribute rather than listening to jump in regardless, without due consideration for another person’s thoughts and feelings. It is a human need to be heard.

EXERCISE – Just for today, practice active listening on one person. Stop, engage with the person speaking to you, make eye contact, smile, put that phone away. Give them your full attention, listen and see the positives that happen. Then with conscious thought participate in the conversation. It might be so good you might like to do it again tomorrow and the day after that. 

If you would like to support to achieve active listening and being comfortable with silence contact and see how I can help you.