The Power of Silence

Aug 01, 2011
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It wasn’t until it was somewhat challenged upon me, that I even took the time to both notice and understand the power that lies in silence.

About a year ago, I spent an entire month attempting something new each day. One of those days I chose to observe a day of silence.

Now, it just wouldn’t be fair or useful if I chose that and then sat idly in the comforts of my own home with the telephone off the hook. So, I made sure that I led a day just like any other, with the not-so-subtle exception of verbal communication.

One doesn’t realize how often they speak until they aren’t anymore. From simple hellos to passersby and the thank yous displayed when receiving your change at the grocery store, there are ample opportunities for verbal communication throughout your day that you may not even take note of. Of course, there are ways around these sorts of spoken exchanges—using toothy smiles, gracious nods, and dancing eyebrows to help relay the information that you desire to send to one another.

In my experience, these simple cues of body language became increasingly exaggerated and cartoon-like as conversations persisted from gentle generic greetings to worrisome worldly woes of the day, all the way to sharing secrets and storytelling.

However, something quite unexpected that became immediately obvious to me was that most people didn’t even realize that I wasn’t speaking back with them. They would carry on about their day and their ungrateful kids without little mind to the muted taker of those words.

At the day’s end, I managed to have several conversations with several strangers without ever having to utter a single word.

Looking back, this day taught me about communication and others’ needs. I realized that people just need somebody to talk to and connect with, on whatever level they possibly can. I also recognized that people, by nature, are extremely busy with their own thoughts, so much so that sometimes it’s all they really hear. Making that connection with another human being is incredibly valuable and precious to both partakers, no matter the actual exchange of words or wisdoms.

Overall, I made several notable connections that day and, equally, had several notable conversations—without ever having to say a thing.

Author: Ryan McLean