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Have you ever run out of things to say during your lunch break with a colleague?
Do you sometimes feel that you always need to be “on” when talking to people, lest they think you’re boring and walk away?
Well, you’re certainly not alone.
Most people feel at least a little uncomfortable when surrounded by silence
And this makes sense: we are, after all, social creatures, and, evolutionarily speaking, getting along with others was literally necessary for our survival.
At least in the West, being talkative and outgoing are generally desired qualities in a person.
That’s all very well and good.
We all know how important effective communication is in our lives.
In business, in personal relationships, in our families – communication is key, and if we don’t know how to communicate properly then the quality of our lives tends to suffer.
But did you know that talking is only half of the communication process?
The other half is listening, and its bedfellow, silence.
Pretty simple, right?
But how often do we find ourselves struggling to think of something to say to fill that silence?
Well, if you’re like most people then the answer is probably a lot.
And that’s fine.
Think of it as a bad habit that you need to kick.
A bad habit that is actually harming your relationships with people.
A bad habit that not only makes things more difficult for you (e.g., trying to think of something to say), but prevents you from really getting to know other people.
In this blog, you’re going to learn how to be comfortable with silence in your conversations with others.
They are all backed by science or research, and by keeping them in mind you’ll become a much better communicator, friend, and partner.
1. Silence is a normal part of communication
We’re told that our tone and non-verbal behavior account for a much bigger piece of the communication pie than simply the words we choose to speak.
As such, we’re told to talk with a convincing tone and to work on our non-verbal communication, such as holding strong eye contact, standing up straight with our chest pushed out, and remaining as still and relaxed as possible.
But there’s an important element of communication that is often simply swept under the rug as if it doesn’t really matter.
That important element is silence – itself a type of non-verbal behavior – which can have a significant positive effect on the health and solidity of your relationships with others when used properly.
So don’t think that there is something wrong with you if you happen to chance upon a lull in the conversation.
Instead, realize that the silence is just a normal part of communication and that you haven’t done anything “wrong” at all.
In fact, if you find silences creeping up in many of your conversations, don’t be alarmed: your temperament may just give you the opportunity to make a real impact on the world.
Read more: How to make any conversation interesting.
2. Great figures in history knew how to use silence in their communication
It’s often been believed that loud and outgoing “extroverts” make the best leaders, politicians, entertainers, and businessmen (and women).
Those that were a little quieter than others, or those that preferred to listen rather than talk, it was believed, were usually only valued for their contribution behind the scenes.
In other words, those that loved to talk were often shoved to the head of the group and given the microphone. Whilst the more silent types were relegated to the background.
But many people are slowly waking up to the fact that people who prefer silence over talk are just as capable of changing the world.
According to Susan Cain and her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” some of the best leaders and minds of history were labeled as introverts throughout their lives, including Albert Einstein, Frederic Chopin, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, and many, many more.
These individuals weren’t uncomfortable in silence and often used it to their advantage.
For example, according to biographer Joseph Ellis, the great American statesman George Washington had “the gift of silence” and would often remain silent during debates.
He also never pretended to be a great orator – yes, public speaking is not for everyone.
Yet this man literally changed the world…
So don’t be afraid of silence, or being quiet.
Trust us: you’re in great company.
Read more: How to stop being uncomfortable around people.
3. Being comfortable with silence will help your relationships (and even make you so damn attractive!)
It’s probably the one thing you can do in any relationship that is almost guaranteed to upset the other person: not listening.
Not listening to the other person has been blamed for countless breakups, divorces, and family quarrels.
People that don’t know how to listen effectively often find themselves in failing relationships, or find it hard to attract a mate.
On the other hand, those that do know how to listen – those that actually prefer to learn about what the other person is all about, instead of just rambling on about themselves – often have longer lasting relationships, more friends, and stronger connections.
In fact, according to a recent Men’s Health survey on what makes a man attractive, 53% of respondents agreed that the ability to be silent and listen was the most attractive practical trait that they look for in a partner.
In other words, chicks dig guys that are good listeners and are comfortable with silence.
And no doubt men appreciate a lady who is there for him and has his undivided attention, too.
Of course, it’s not hard to see why being a good listener is so highly desired.
Everyone wants to be heard as it helps you feel appreciated and valued for who you are.
So the next time you find yourself on a date where you seem to be doing most of the talking, take a step back and remember the attractiveness of silence.
She’ll appreciate the window you’ve given her to express herself, and what you learn about her (or him) will help foster stronger bonds between you.
So there you have it.
Not only is silence a necessary part of communication, but it has also been used by some of the greatest individuals who ever graced the planet, and can help strengthen your relationships and make you a more attractive person.
Read more: How to avoid awkward silence.
How else can silence help your communication and relationships? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and let’s embrace the power of silence together!