Updated: Nov 26, 2020
The one, who has the words, has the power. Knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it, is to have power. Look at some of the great people through history: Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, even Adolf Hitler.
They all knew how to use their words correctly, intriguing and captivating individuals – and letting them think, reflect and have their own voice. Part of using words is listening to others, by allowing them to speak on their terms and be patient, because only then can you actually understand them and give them what they need. How do you ensure people get to have a say, so you can understand them and their specific needs?
You use the silence!
I have previously written about silent co-creation, introduced by Bastian Overgaard, and how incorporating silence in meetings and conversations leaves space for reflection and for everyone to be able to say something. Plan to have 1 to 2 minutes of silence between points on the agenda, embrace the flow of thoughts and emotions you experience, and welcome everyone to share, what is on their mind. Does this sound familiar? If you have read my previous post (Employee Voice), you will know of the importance of having employees speaking up, because it contributes to creativity, performance and development of the organisation.
Incorporating silence in conversations and meetings leaves a space for reflection and building up courage to speak up, because after silence there is a clean slate for everyone to open their mouths. This clean slate – and clean air – facilitates a greater understanding of each other while making space for words to be thought through and everyone to have a free space to say something. Another great effect of the silence is the decrease in feeling tired due to noise and constant stimuli all the time. The silence gives you a needed break, and allows you to reset your mind, allowing for better decision-making and creative thinking.
In other words, actively and strategically using silence in the workplace can boost the workplace:
Create more effective meetings
Create a space where everyone feels safe to talk
Facilitate creativity, knowledge-sharing and better communication
Boost performance through everyone experience greater empowerment
Highlight otherwise unknown needs and desires amongst employees
Facilitate a greater work environment
On the other hand, employees deciding to stay silent and not share their thoughts can slow down the development and problem-solving in an organisation. Are you convinced yet? Why don’t you try out systematic silence and see the effect it might have.
Or perhaps you have already done it, and have worthwhile experiences to share?