One of the things we regularly remind our clients is that everything is a communication. And by that we mean, everything. What you wear, how you stand, how fast you talk, what your eyes do as you listen, how quickly you return a call or email, how you set up your office… you get the picture. And, that means that if everything is a communication, so is silence even though you may have believed it is a lack of communication.
As you go about your days, it’s important that you not only consider what you are consciously communicating, but also what your silence or withdrawal is communicating to others. Remember, the absence of communication is a communication—only you have no idea what people are “hearing” from you.
You will always have more impact and influence if you address what is on your mind—rather than thinking that your silence will be understood. You may think your silence is benign, but you have to consider what others may “hear” in the silence. Things such as, “I don’t care about this issue,” or “this is a dumb conversation,” or even “I have no respect for you.” We know that there are times when you may need to step away to reflect on the issues at hand, but you are better served to say, “I need some time to consider all that has been said, I will get back to you at this time,” than to assume your silence will say that for you.
This week, as you communicate with others, watch how you are using silence and ask yourself if you are using it as a means of communication. If you are, figure out what you want the silence to say, check and see if it is, in fact, communicating what you want to say, and if it’s not, put words to the silence to clean up the communication and increase your effectiveness.