I am, by nature, an emotionally charged human. While an introvert, I feel things with passion and gusto; I also manage to deal with things with the same passion and gusto. Call it an evil curse. We also work in an industry where personality and talking is extremely important. As is the passion and gusto I mention above.
But I’ve learned something in the last few years working for my area manager….silence. That woman can sit and listen and just look, allowing, or rather forcing. words to come out of your mouth. I’ve witnessed it in person and over the phone on many occasions and I’m still in awe of it. During interviews, during site visits, during phone calls (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Are you still there??”).
Being silent allows an opportunity for you to hear what is being said….in many situations.
During times of unrest (aka drama), pulling yourself away, choosing not to be emotionally charged, will allow you to gain a different perspective. You won’t be amidst the emotions of the situation, you’ll be like an outsider looking in. And in most instances, if you allow yourself to be silent long enough, to not be dragged into the unrest, you’ll hear exactly what you need to hear.
During an interview, don’t talk, don’t sell yourself and the company until you’re ready to sell yourself and the company to an individual that deserves that sales pitch. I have found myself in interviews, being the talker, pulling out my sales hat, when in the grand scheme of things, the person sitting in front of me should be selling me, should be initiating the conversation, should be forcing me to listen to what they have to say.
During arbitrary times, it’s important to remain silent to get a read on other humans surrounding you. Practicing the art of silence, also includes the art of active listening. It’s amazing the things you can hear, the nuances you can pick up on when you shut your mouth long enough to listen to others surrounding you.
If you’re a leader, or have aspirations to be any kind of leader, this is an art form to be learned. In my opinion, sooner rather than later. I wish this had been something I had as an example many years ago, my emotionally charged spirit could have used the practice of silence. I honestly noticed it quite awhile ago from my boss, and really just was in awe of it, I never thought I’d be able to actually put it to use, just being me. Then I heard my best friend say something she always says, that I’d never listened to, “Be still and quiet”.
So, in the last few weeks, I’ve put it at the forefront of my mind, I’ve utilized the skill in several different professional and personal situations. I have forced myself to be “still and quiet”, to go silent in order to hear others. And in some instances, to hear nothing at all, but to only allow myself the opportunity to not be emotionally charged in a situation that deserved reasonable discussion, after my emotions took a backseat. I’ve taken these weeks to practice something that I wanted to share with all of you, that I believe is something that we in this industry do not practice enough. I didn’t feel it fair to share without taking on the same initiative I’m passing on to you!
Maybe it’s a personality trait, maybe it’s something others are born with. Honestly, I attribute it to wisdom or some version of being a lady I haven’t quite reached yet. As my best friend reminds me regularly, “be still and quiet” and as my boss leads by example, silence is in fact, golden.