At work, during the break – you regenerate. At the gym, during the rest, you develop your training. What is it for in conversation?
This is the podcast 8 Minutes to Success. I’m Kinga Panufnik and I invite you to spend the next 8 minutes with me.
On my way to success I’ve learnt a lot from others. That is why I’ d like to share my personal experience with you.
Maybe you’ve heard that silence can communicate more than words. Maybe you’ve heard the expression that speech is silver, silence is golden. Many of us have heard this, but do we use this knowledge? Do we put it into practice? I think, not really.
Today I’ll tell you what helped me to extend, to enlarge my communication toolbox to making pauses. And to do it, I’ll use a music metaphor.
In music we have notes and rests. Note shows the duration of a sound so how long the note lasts and a rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music. Each rest corresponds to each note so we have longer and shorter notes and rests. They have their own names. I’m not gonna mention it today because it’s not music lesson it’s just my podcast about communication. That is much easier to understand making pauses in communication.
Do you think it is nice to listen to a piece of music when none of instrument make any rests? I think it would be hard and tiring over a long time.
So let’s now turn to communication. How it works? I divided a communication area into two parts, one is making conversation, and second is giving talks in front of big audience.
When making conversation we usually do very short pauses just to take a breath, to inhale. And we do very short or longer breaks it depends on the pace of our speech. If we speak very fast our break for inhale is also very fast. In making conversation we don’t usually use very long pauses because it sounds strange, unnatural. But in making conversation we should use longer pauses than just to inhale. When we play with pauses our speech sounds just nicer.
Let’s move to giving talks. In this area we usually should say slower than when making conversation. Because when we are standing in front of the big audience especially when using microphone, when we speak very fast it can sound like mumbling. It can be unclear. For us, in our mind it sounds natural but not for listeners. So we avoid very fast pace and we don’t use very short breaks.
We should use longer pauses when giving talks to start new ideas, also to look around and make an eye contact with an audience, share smiling. At the beginning it sounds strange for us and even we can make a longer break, for example, after rhetorical questions. So when we ask a question and we don’t expect anybody to answer it aloud but we expect that people think about it a little so it’s good to give them space, give them a rest to think about it a little.
But why we don’t do it? I found out that a fear appears in us. That people can think that we got lost and we don’t know what to say and maybe we are afraid that we will forget what to say so we just need to keep going until the end as fast as we can, to say what we planned to say. We usually plan actions, words, arguments, but we don’t plan pauses. We are also afraid that somebody can jump in and we will lose out attention.
I’ll tell you one story sharing my experience about what silence can do, how it can remedy a tough situation at work.
Once, when a had a board meeting, there were three people and the topic we were discussing was dividing us. We had different approaches. Moreover the topic was very emotional, we had a very hard argument, each of us expressed their opinions and feelings. We were reaching I’d say the boiling point and suddenly it happened. Nobody said anything and this lasted and lasted. From my perspective I decided to say nothing because in such emotions people usually don’t listen to each other so it is not worth saying anything.
Usually I said a lot at this time, but I decided to make it differently. I said nothing and the rest of us also said nothing. And we stayed like that for at least a couple of the longest music rests. It lasted maybe five or six minutes which is a really long time in conversation, believe me. And the silence did the trick. At the end of that meeting, actually of this situation, the owner of the company said: Thank you for that silence. And all of us appreciated that silence. It solved a situation and the argument. Of course we came back to that topic again in some time but the energy was completely different. Silence has power. Sometimes even bigger than words. I wonder what is your experience with silence.
And another example.
Once, I had a meeting with one man. That was just a meeting to build the relationship and I asked him about his business. And he started speaking. He was speaking all the time. He didn’t ask me any questions. That was the time I used this tool, silent tool, so I stayed not asking anything because I didn’t want to interrupt him And he didn’t want to stop. He was speaking all the time and after the meeting, which lasted two hours, I realized that I didn’t lose anything. He lost a chance to find out what’s going on in my business but I got two hours report about his business.
And a challenge for you for the next week,
First, Try to make a pause, counting to three in your mind, before you start speaking. For example, somebody asks you a question, then you count in your mind one-two-three, and then you start. I wonder how you feel. I wonder if you can see any difference. Share it with me if you want.
And another one, for one week, switch off the radio in your car, and listen to the surrounding, listen to your thoughts, and listen to the music of the silence.
Let the music you play by talking to people be the best piece of music you can compose.
And let the pause be your perfect word.
Thank you for today. Bye, bye.
This was 8 Minutes to Success. If I’ve left you wanting more that’s great. It’s much healthier to stay a little hungry rather than eat too much and feel sick. I hope you will listen to my next episode. To avoid missing any I recommend that you sign up for the newsletter on my website www.8minutestosuccess.com and the next episode will be sent to your email straight from the production line. Don’t be afraid I won’t be bringing this out every day. Don’t forget to subscribe. Would also be nice to get some comments from you and if you feel it’s worthy you can share it with your friends. Take care. Bye, bye.