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Experiences

Rediscovery 2: Silence

“That man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.”
Thomas Hardy

Silence is defined as nothing more than the absence of sound or noise. But it could be used and interpreted for so much more than this.
For unwillingness to respond. Impoliteness. Speechlessness. Ignorance. A sign of approval or disapproval. A lack of interest.
Silence can be unbearable or much needed. It can be awkward, inspiring, incredible, destructive, creative…

For many years, silence was simply awkward for me. I attached all kinds of (only) negative connotations to it and tried to avoid it at any cost. When with someone, I always made an effort not to let it be there even for a short while. When alone, I always had background sound or noise even when doing something that required my full concentration. Over time, in both subtle and unambiguous ways, my perception of silence slowly changed.

Moving to a different country, immersing into a new culture, reading, embracing diversity and reflection from different perspectives, challenging my perceptions – all of these contributed to my rediscovery of silence. The room for interpretation that it leaves in our communication still makes me cringe, but I am able to see it in a much more neutral way. Now I need it and enjoy it at times. To the extent that it even became a comfortable way of spending some time with myself and others.

How do you perceive silence in our ‘noisy’ world?

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About irinapashina

Marketing professional, blogger, group fitness instructor, reader, theater-goer

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Rediscovery 2: Silence

  1. Interesting topic. One of the hard things to learn as a presenter (or an instructor) is when you ask a question to the audience, and nobody responds immediately, to bear the silence in the room. Only if you learn to tolerate the silence (you may quietly and slowly count to twelve) will you perhaps get people to talk. This is really hard, and the fear of silence often prevents real dialog.

    Posted by hajovonkracht | July 20, 2013, 10:09 am
    • Hajo, thanks for your comment. I could not agree more that the fear of silence often prevents real dialog and can certainly ruin any presentation or teaching effort. Will definitely keep in mind ‘counting to twelve’ in mind for my future endeavors to learn to better cope with silence.

      Posted by irinapashina | July 21, 2013, 12:12 am
  2. Great topic, I love it! What I like the most about this post is the initial quote. Have you ever realized how the silence of some people makes you more comfortable than the silence of others?

    You are correct, as far as I am concerned, most of us need to learn to enjoy silence. I do nowadays (I can’t live without it). When I come home, there has to be silence, at least for one or two hours. It’s a reflection phase.
    When being with other people, it’s a bit of a different story. I prefer to follow the conversational maximes of Paul Grice in most situations:
    – be as informative as possible, but give only as much information as needed (quantity)
    – if you can’t know whether a statement is true, dont’ assert it (quality)
    – do only say what is relevant in your context (relation)
    – be clear and brief; avoid ambiguity (manner)

    Following these principles sort of set pretty strict limits. For instance, I find it hard to justify chit-chat based on those. Chit-chatting is not my thing. Often, I don’t know what to tell or I simply don’t want to tell (for various reasons). On the other hand, I’m often in situation where I feel that what my counterpart is talking about simply bores me, I’m lacking interest.

    You are correct when you say that silence leaves a lot of room for interpretation. And that can be problematic. Many people don’t like it. They would ask you to “say something” or “tell a story”. And my reaction (and my answer) is always the same – I can’t.

    Posted by Lars | July 20, 2013, 12:43 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: (Re)Discovery 9: Words (don’t) matter | impressions - July 27, 2013

  2. Pingback: Rediscovery 28: Sharing | impressions - September 6, 2013

  3. Pingback: Discovery 29: Bench aka The Importance of Being Alone | impressions - September 11, 2013

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