Richard Maun – Holding The Silence

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Holding The Silence

27 October 2013

To hold the silence means to actively allow the other person to think by us being silent ourselves. We don’t tap our phone, we don’t cough or slurp coffee. We don’t stare at them either, pen poised to grab their thoughts and commit them to paper.

What we do is to put our pen down, find a neutral spot on the wall to study, ignore our cooling coffee and we wait.

We wait for them to think, to allow their thoughts to coalesce and to turn into words.

We are not ignoring them – we are holding the silence for them. If someone opens a door to come in we wave them away. If our phone chirps we silence it. If we want to speak we don’t.

In this situation we are being alert to our surroundings and are monitoring the environment so that they have a quiet, safe space to think in.

It’s tempting to fill silence with noise and chatter and the clink of coffee cups. Don’t do it – hold the silence and let the other person really think about their issue.

I’m always struck by how some of my best coaching work has been as a result of holding the silence. Saying nothing and managing an empty space has unlocked issues more speedily and allowed clients to think more deeply about things than any clever question I care to think of.

This week you’re invited to practice holding the silence, whether at home or at work. Notice how the other person reacts and how hard you have to work to give them the thinking space.

How long can you hold the silence for before feeling overwhelmed by it and needing to break it with a cough or a few words?

Holding the silence is a useful technique to help improve business, so have fun with it!

Next week: Silent brainstorming


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