On the weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the City of Casey’s Innovation Summit in one of their Fireside sessions. The topic I spoke on was ‘Silence is your Superpower’. As an extrovert, keeping my mouth shut, refraining from giving my opinion and offering advice has been an area I’ve personally struggled with. I get so excited when I feel like I have something to add to a conversation or when I come up with a new idea that I’m often compelled to just blurt out!
It wasn’t until I became a coach that I understood the benefit of silence and over the years I have learnt to create a break between the thought popping into my head and the words leaving my mouth. I have also got better (although still a work in progress) at stopping myself from speaking where my thoughts may not be appropriate or relevant to the person receiving them.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the need to speak more than they listen. It’s an area that I work on with many leaders who are feeling frustrated with their team. They don’t realise they’re the reason for their teams inability to make decisions or think outside the box. In the Fireside session I referred to ‘silence’ as a superpower in the context of listening, learning and leading. If leaders can use silence effectively their staff can start to think for themselves and really commit to decisions.
Every one of us has access to this superpower but like everything it takes practice, perseverance and determination to get right.
The first thing to remember when practicing silence is that it’s ok to feel awkward when no one is speaking, that doesn’t make it wrong – and the more often you do it the more comfortable you’ll feel about it.
The second thing is that silence doesn’t negatively reflect on your ability as a leader, it actually gives you credibility. A leader who doesn’t need to always hear the sound of their own voice will be much more respected by their team.
And finally, silence gives us the ability to consider more deeply about what’s being said, without judgement. It is through silence that be become truly curious!
Daniel A. Gross, in his article, This Is Your Brain on Silence, concluded, following various research studies, that “freedom from noise and goal-directed tasks, it appears, unites the quiet without and within, allowing our conscious workspace to do its thing, to weave ourselves into the world, to discover where we fit in.”
So, whether you’re a leader or just a person each and every one of us has the ability to become a super hero if we embrace silence in our lives.
Just start with 5 seconds…..shhhhh…
Shelley Flett is an expert in leadership development and team performance, with over a decade of experience in operations and call centres across banking and telecommunications. She is focused on maximising efficiency and building high performance team cultures. Shelley is the Author of ‘The Dynamic Leader: Become the leader others are inspired to follow’ (Major Street Publishing $29.95). For more information about how Shelley can help your leaders visit www.shelleyflett.comor drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org.