Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silence: A Subtle, Yet Powerful Ally

Silence isn't something that many of us are naturally appreciative of, particularly in social situations. So accustomed to an endless flow of words, it's easy to feel a growing tension whenever silence lingers during a date or in a group setting. As I learn to relax my pace of life and social flow, I have begun to develop a deep appreciation for social silence. While it might first seem like something to be avoided, a fuller analysis reveals that there are more instances where silence confers positive benefits than where it hinders relationship.

Game Application: On first dates, especially, silence is a very powerful thing. Once attraction has already been established, allowing silence to linger serves to do several things. First, the tension that naturally accompanies periods of silence serves to further build and heighten attraction. Second, by demonstrating that you are comfortable with being silent around your date, you give her implicit permission to also relax and enjoy simply being; after the first few times, this works to develop more comfort. Third, by not constantly carrying and directing the conversation, there is space for more two-sided interactions, which is great for establishing real connection. Fourth, the periods of silence offer space for non-verbal communication, which is generally more powerful and efficacious than verbal communication, especially in any romantic setting. Lastly, the simple fact that you aren't saying anything means you aren't killing attraction by saying too much or saying the wrong things.

Non-Game Applications: Silence is what affords people space to think more deeply, sort through their own thoughts and feelings and make internal progress on a topic. As such, leaving ample room for contemplation is a vital technique which is usable within a broad array of settings. In a teaching setting, leaving more room for answers encourages further thinking by those who aren't quite as swift to think of an answer, or who are more hesitant to express their thoughts. The more silence you allow, the greater the depth of learning that can occur. Similarly, in a coaching or counseling relationship, space is one of the most crucial elements of the relationship. In both instances, since any real change must emerge from within, it is crucial for a client to be fully aware of their own thoughts and feelings, which only occurs with ample mental space. Even on a personal level, silence is an indispensible ally. Embracing silence always results in a greater depth of personal peace and a higher level of awareness. As a spiritual practice, silence is one of the most challenging and yet most valuable rituals an individual can engage in. Whether used for the purposes of prayer, meditation or simply stillness, silence provides the space needed for a soul to connect with the divine.

In all these instances, silence is something that is incredibly powerful. The slight discomfort that might be felt initially can hardly compare with the rich benefits offered to one who appreciates and fully utilizes silence. In social situations, silence is not golden simply because it is the absence of speech. Instead, silence itself is a positive good that is underappreciated and often underutilized. Only as a person begins to see the positive power that silence has to offer, can that silence be harnessed for personal and social enrichment. Once that understanding is reached, however, there is scarcely a limit to its potential for positive effect.

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