The Dalai Lama turned 80 years old this week, and like others, I often find his viewpoint useful: focusing and calming.

I shared this one of his on my Facebook business page:

“Silence is sometimes the best answer” 

Partly because I love the quote but largely because I had just had a tricky conversation with someone who was not being their kindest self in our interaction. Staying silent was the only way to manage my own reactivity. In the end, things worked out in a mutually beneficial way, nothing ugly was said, and we were able to move forward. I’m certain that staying quiet was key to this outcome.

Of course it got me thinking about the ways I use silence. It’s a newer–last couple of years–active tool in my kit, especially in difficult situations when I would previously fill in gaps with explanations, justifications, or worse, apologies. Part of this has flowed out of trying to manage the mass amounts of information that come at me. Part of my digital diet is to not let myself get sucked in at every moment to the unending emails that come to my inbox and a by-product has been learning things have a way of sorting themselves out if I leave enough space for it. Whether it’s as simple as managing a scheduling conflict or as big as the conversation I had to have earlier in the week, not every problem needs me to jump in, fill in to resolve it immediately.

Obviously, some things need your attention and voice immediately, but making a conscious choice around the difference has helped me immensely. What are some ways you’re using silence and pauses as a productive tool?

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5 thoughts on “Silence

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