Silence - A Hidden Business Tool


A Hidden Business Tool

In today's frantic world, silence is not often perceived as a communication of business tool. Yet, the strategic use of silence - ranging from five-second pauses in a conversation to extended periods of quiet - can result in tremendous benefits to those who practice it.

Here are twenty ways you may be able to use silence for your and others' benefit. Ponder the list, pick a few suggestions that may work well for you, and resolve to practice the powerful art of silence on those many occasions when you have the opportunity to do so.

Inspire yourself. During periods of silence, the mind has a way of retreating to gentle thoughts and core values - great destinations when you're worried or wondering about something.

Build productivity. Quiet time is perfect for focusing on important, detail-oriented tasks. Want a subordinate or colleague to work on a project for you? You'll get it done faster if you arrange for the individual to work in a silent place.

Reduce stress. Tough morning? Too much tension around you? Retreat to a corner and remain still and silent for a few minutes. You'll bring on powerful physiological changes in your body that can help calm you and prepare you for the balance of the day.

Raise your stature. Cultivating the art of graceful silence is one of the characteristics of successful people. Next time you hear a distorted comment, angry retort, or biased question thrown at you, remain silent for a short time. Others will respect you for your thoughtfulness.

Emphasize the seriousness of an action. When it comes time to describe a vital initiative, or to speak with a subordinate or colleague about something she's done wrong, let silence play a part in your comments. After you say what you must say, let your words hang in the air for ten seconds or so. Your listeners won't forget them.

Get your prospect talking. When you're in the midst of a sales call, resist the temptation to present every facet of your product or service. Instead, pause at key junctures, without question or comment.and listen to the often-revealing thoughts of the prospect.

Raise the esteem of others. Many people are afraid to speak up during meetings. When you sense fear on the part of a person near you, ask a general question, something that calls for a thoughtful response.and then wait. Yes, the individual might be uncomfortable at first, but by stepping back and giving him center stage for a few moments, you'll give him the opportunity to build self-confidence.

Analyze your own thinking. Use quiet time to better understand your own reactions to proposals and ideas. And use this all-important time to understand your own motives for thinking the way you do.

Create atmosphere. Silence, perhaps punctuated by gentle music, helps create a warm, inviting atmosphere - perfect for an employee retreat or a meeting requiring focus.

Generate ideas. While brainstorming is often a frenzied activity, great brainstorming is frequently preceded by moments of calm silence, time for participants to gather their thoughts and energy for what follows.

Stimulate discussion. Running a meeting? It's easy for you to dominate the discussion. But instead of going this route, pose a few problems to the group and resolve to remain silent while the group grapples with them. You may be amazed at what comes out of the discussion.

Solve problems. Next time you're faced with a thorny problem, retreat to a quiet corner. Don't try to force a solution. Just play with the problem in your mind, and let your latent experience and skills forge a solution.

Ponder important questions. Has a co-worker or customer asked you an especially thought-provoking question? Have you read or heard something that intrigues you? The next step: a period of silence, time to reflect on the implications of the question, as well as your next step.

Ease conflict. Parents use silent 'time-outs' to ease friction in the home. Leaders in the workplace can use periods of silence to cool conflicts and set the stage for productive discussion of problems.

Visualize. Rarely can you achieve breakthrough objectives while you're in the midst of loud or frantic activity. Instead, use quiet time to 'walk through' difficult problems or imagine how you'll achieve important initiatives.

Emphasize a point. When you want others to remember an important pronouncement, nothing does it better than a short period of silence.

Gain energy. If you're feeling tired or anxious, a few moments of silence can help restore equilibrium and clear the mind.

Concentrate. Wise group leaders often call for a moment of silence while discussing complex issues. The quiet time helps group members collect themselves and focus their attention on the thorny problems at hand.

Give yourself strength. When you're about to enter a difficult meeting or engage in a troublesome task, a quiet period helps you marshal your strength and feel a sense of poise as you prepare for the task at hand.

Learn. When you remain silent and listen intently to the random chatter that fills your day, you have a powerful opportunity to learn. Listen for gossip, ideas, and a wide range of commentary about the people and the world around you. The result: greater knowledge and wisdom that you can readily put to work.