2 Things You Can Do to Avoid Uncomfortable Silences
It is in silence when the magic happens.
Yet, we are afraid of it. We try so hard to avoid it and because of doing so we are missing out.
It is when the comedian makes a silence that the audience can react and laugh. It is in the silence after an uncomfortable truth has been told that we can empathize and feel what others are feeling.
It is in silence that the best minds of this earth have produced the majority of their contributions. Also, we sometimes need our mind to be silent and we struggle to make that happen.
Wouldn’t we all want our mind to be quiet… even if at least for just a couple of seconds.
Still… we avoid silence. We feel it is uncomfortable… I wonder what are we so afraid of?
As an introvert, I know that one of our most feared situations is when we are in a conversation and have nothing else to say. Or at least nothing “smart” to say. When such silences happen, the over-thinking kicks in and makes it even worse.
We do so without understanding that there is nothing on the other side of that fear. In fact, we need that silence, because it gives us so much information about what is happening in the conversation.
Silence is not good or bad by itself, it is a tool and we must learn how to use it to our advantage. Remember that just as you are feeling uncomfortable with the silence the other person might also be feeling the same.
It is known that salespeople use silence as a tool, so why not turn the tables and use it on them to get a better deal?
Let’s explore how we can be comfortable with silence and use it to our advantage.
The Power of Silence
It is true that silence can be uncomfortable so before we can actually use as a tool we must master it.
First, we will learn how to avoid silence. Then we will learn how to read the silence and get information out of it. Finally, we will combine everything so that we can effectively use it as a tool in our networking arsenal.
How to Avoid Silence?
“To be interesting, be interested.”
It is as simple as that quote. If you always strive to find the interesting thing about everyone that is in front of you, you will never encounter an uncomfortable silence. In order to do that you have to be a curious person. If you are not curious then there is nothing I, or anyone else, can do for you. But most likely, if you are here it is because you are curious so all you have to do is apply that desire to learn and explore to the person in front of you.
This is another quote that can help you, as a guiding principle, to avoid silence.
Your goal is to find the interesting thing or what you can learn from the other person. The easiest way to do so is to ask vertical questions. This just means that you don’t ask questions jumping from topic to topic. You ask questions in the same direction, going deeper into the topic you are exploring.
Doing so will allow you to find “the weird thing” that you have in common with anyone. After that, the magic has happened… the conversation will feel like talking to an old friend.
What Can We Learn From Silence?
Silence can say more than words. You just have to learn how to listen to it… especially with your eyes.
Now that you have the vertical questions tool-kit under your belt, you are no longer afraid of silence. So, start using it.
Silence can tell you a lot about how the other person is feeling about you and the conversation. If the other person starts the conversation again, it means they are interested in maintaining it. Or they might want to change the topic and silence will allow them to do so.
Usually, I approach networking like a comedian. I “test material” and leaving room for silence is what allows me to gauge reactions. That way I can tell if I should keep telling the same stories or not, or if I should tweak them to keep the audience engaged.
There is nothing wrong with using silence, and stories, as an influence tool. Influence by itself is not good or bad. So, if you are using silence as a tool to build stronger and meaningful relationships with whom you are speaking, then you are creating value.
How To Practice Silence?
Information is only valuable when turned into knowledge, and you can do so by using that information.