Times When You Need to Stay Silent in Life
There are many instances when you need to stay quiet in life and listen to others instead of talking. Speaking less and listening more has a lot more benefits than you would think.
This doesn’t mean you keep quiet when the other person is talking and let your mind wander away. You have to honestly listen to the other person instead of simply planning what you’re going to say next. 😄
Most of the time, if not all the time, the person who speaks less in a conversation stands to gain the most and the one who speaks most gains the least.
According to Abraham Lincoln, ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt’.
Both listening and speaking are necessary life skills and remaining silent is not a solution at all times, so what are the occasions when it really pays of to keep quiet?
Occasions When Listening is More Important Than Speaking
Listening to Information
This is called informative listening.
- A typical example is listening to a lecture or some instructions at your workplace regarding some new practices and procedures. This is surely not the time to speak, except if you have a doubt of course!
- Your performance in your duty will depend on how well you listened and understood the instructions, report, speeches etc.
Talk less listen more! You cannot afford to remain ignorant and to get facts, you need to hold your tongue!
- Consider this scenario – you’re new to a job or you’ve just joined a new team for a project and they have been together for some time.
- The team or co workers have a shared history and they are well aware of what ideas will work and what won’t.
- You’re not familiar with the background so it makes sense to listen to others at least in the initial days.
- When someone is sharing a meaningful or valuable information, story or anecdote.
When Speaking is Unproductive
- If there is a heated discussion going on, it would be better not to add fuel to the fire by speaking.
- Your words could only worsen the situation when tempers all around are already flying high.
- When you’re dealing with someone who is not responsive to criticism,there’s no point in speaking, as it would only anger or distress them, and would also not ease the situation in any way. It’s best to overlook differences with others and keep quiet in such situations.
- When you see someone overreacting and hysterical, the best response would be to silently listen to the rantings. Wait for them to calm down before you give them your perspective.
In short, don’t hurt others feelings. Being brutally honest doesn’t always pay, believe me.
- If you feel your words will hurt others, it is better to remain silent. For instance, if your friend asks you for comments on her/his appearance and you only have a negative opinion to offer, it’s best to remain silent and smile instead of replying candidly.
- If you feel the relationship could be hurt by speaking, then don’t utter the words.
- Say your piece and then keep quiet during a negotiation. Respect the other person enough and listen to what he/she wants to convey.
When Someone Taunts/Irritates You: Be Quiet and Cool
- When someone’s motive is to hurt you or taunt you out of malice or jealousy, responding with words will only add more credibility to their words.
- Such taunts do not warrant a response. A typical example is Internet snipers. They attack you verbally but can only succeed if you respond to them.
- Don’t respond to online attacks, malicious online reviews or social media snipers. Snipers are just venting their frustrations or out to create trouble and pick on you. Just delete the comment or ban the user.
- Also remember, silence does not mean you agree with the person.
When You’re Angry
There are times when you’re really losing it! Time to remain quiet when someone attacks you.
- Your heartbeat is increasing, your fingers are shaking and your face is all flushed. All these are cues to remain silent. If you speak in this emotional state of mind, you would end up saying something that you’ll live to regret.
- Remember silence is not a weakness, it is a Zen moment where you don’t speak hurtful words. It takes strength to remain silent when angry and ignore negative comments. Words spoken in anger can never truly resolve a conflict.
Nothing to Say
You have nothing to say? Then don’t say it!
- When you’re unsure about what to say, silence is the best policy.
- It’s better to remain silent rather than make a false or ridiculous statement. Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything to say.
When Compassion is Needed
When someone unburdens their sorrows to you, you need to listen to them before offering advice. Sometimes, words cannot fix problems but silence can offer the much needed empathy and support.
- Sometimes, it’s a great help to just be a listening board and show that you care.
- Be non judgmental while empathising. Don’t offer opinions.
- Listen carefully and give the person your full attention. You can ask some relevant questions or clarify some statements.
With Your Boss
Here, you have to balance it just right. Pick the right time for speaking and for remaining silent.
- Don’t disagree with your boss in the middle of a heated meeting. Remain silent and discuss the issue later, privately.
- Arguing with your boss could spell career suicide. If you do have something to say, ask permission ‘I have some views, may I share them?’
- Understand your boss’ personality and remain silent when you need to.
During an Interview
Well, now this one is rather dicey!
- You do need to speak about your skills; experience; goals; contributions; aspirations etc. at the time of an interview.
- But you also need to be a good listener and keep quiet when your employer talks to you about the job, the duties it entails, about the company etc.
Wrap Up – Times When You Need to Stay Quite in Life
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Aung San Suu Kyi all are models proving that quiet is as important, if not more important than, talking. The three main reasons why we tend not to listen to others is disinterest; boredom and selfish obsession with ourselves.
When you listen to others you show them that you care and that you are interested in their opinions and perspectives. This can go a long way in building a strong and lasting relationship with others.
Now before you march off to get a large roll of duct tape or consider living the life of a monk, it’s not that difficult, it’s just a matter of practise. Cultivate a good vocabulary, improve your concentration and focusing abilities and you will find that listening to others is a breeze.
It can be a little difficult to balance it just right, when to listen and when to speak. For instance, you cannot remain silent to social injustice, but that calls for another article on occasions when you need to speak up!! 😄
No one wants to keep quiet and become a wallflower, so it’s all about gauging situations and keeping silent at the right time. True, you have a lot to say to others, but others also have a lot to say to you, so at some point just stop talking and start listening.
To repeat a cliché, Speech is silver but Silence is Golden!!