Silence is power. Silence is meaningful.
For a while, I never perceived silence as a form of communication. As an introvert, I tend to live up to the title given to me by my peers - “man of few words.” Like many people, I believed that to be silent was to be dumb, socially awkward, or even incompetent. In other cases, silence can be interpreted as apathy, patience, boredom, fear, or sadness. For a long time I felt ashamed of my inability to “speak up” or single-handedly command the attention of a lunch table. In some cases, I felt like I was being held hostage by my environment – That it was in control of me and I was at its mercy. However, over the years I was able to develop mechanisms to counter that self-defeating mentality. One such mechanism was my acknowledgement of silence as a powerful form on non-verbal communication, rather than the absence of sound or voice.
My silence is conflict management. I choose to think about what I say before I say it. I can recall many instances in which thinking in silence before acting has helped me prevent conflict. My silence is thoughtfulness. As a “man of few words,” I spend a lot of time thinking, re-structuring, and synthesizing my thoughts in my head before speaking. Even if it’s the one contribution I make for the day, it will be a meaningful one. My silence is sensitivity. It took me a while to develop good listening skills. In fact, I tended to hear what someone said rather than actively listen. By being very intentional about developing my ability to listen, I have found that silence is important in many regards. For example, not speaking while the other person is speaking, or even turning off your TV will limit distractions from what is being communicated to you. As a result, you will be better able to meet the needs of the individual you are conversing with. My silence is confidence. I prefer to let my actions do the talking. In other words, I perceive my behavior as being the most immediate indicator of my character. Therefore, I try to carry myself in a manner that aligns with my values which are sincerity, genuineness, courtesy, and humility. In my opinion, you shouldn’t have to say a word in order to be admired and respected. Finally, my silence is power. Sometimes when faced with injustice, bias, hate, or even ignorance simply walking away and not engaging the perpetrator can communicate a strong message. For example, not laughing can demonstrate your disapproval of the racist joke that your friend made.
No matter how you choose to communicate, know that you do have the power to successfully navigate your environment. Never compromise who you are. Instead, be intentional about the environments you put yourself in, focus on your strengths, and use those strengths to better yourself and others.