We sat down to eat and as I poured our tea, Dharma asked me a leading question. "So tell me Tadpole, what's been going on in your life?" "Glad you asked. I said something to a friend a mine...in an effort to be helpful..but now he's upset with me. And I'm not sure what I did or said that caused him to feel this way." Dharma thought for a minute or so and then offered this advice, "My boy, sometimes a frog's silence can be a source of great strength; learning when to listen and not to speak can be a very valuable lesson. Perhaps we should focus on that today as our lesson. And we did.
Ever notice when you listen to music that there is often a pause between the notes? If it weren't for those pauses, music wouldn't be melodic. it would simply be a cacophony....a harsh discordant jumble of sounds. Communication can be that way as well. Often, human (and we frogs, too) only want to be heard. They aren't looking for solutions, advice, or criticisms. other times, silence allows others to be clearly heard, to take their turn to speak. Silence can also be important in itself. There are times when quiet is very nice. Silence can be relaxing and restorative as well, and that’s a wise thing to do, from time to time.
For some humans, silence comes naturally. For others, it is a struggle to be quiet. Silence can make them feel uncomfortable. For those of us who struggle to keep quiet, Here are Dharma's five top reasons for zipping up your lips.
1. Silence gets attention. When someone pauses every so often while speaking, it can signal our brains that something important will happen or will be said. As a listener, you automatically perk up. In our daily conversations, when we pause and "take a breath" others take note and begin paying closer attention.
2. Silence can be an obvious answer. Humans tend to over-explain. Silence, then, on its own becomes the answer. it can soften the blow of a negative response if we simply remain silent; it is an implied "no." Another example is when someone says something we don’t agree with or find offensive. If we are silent, we send a powerful message that communicates that we don’t agree or are not going along with what someone is saying.
3. Silence uses non-verbal language. Humans are fortunate to have many ways of communicating in addition to talking. Experts agree that non-verbal language can often be far more powerful than verbal language. "Nonverbal communication – our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice – that speaks the loudest. The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication, or body language, is a powerful tool that can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, and build better relationships.”
4. Silence offers empathy to others. We frogs and humans too, I've noticed, always seem to feel obligated to say things to our friends and family when they are experiencing difficult times. It is tempting to do that, I know. But often, all they really need, and want from us is for our presence. Words aren't necessary and often don't really do much good. "We can show someone we care and we are there for them without using a plethora of words. We can offer comfort by our calming silence," says the very wise Dharma.
5. Silence is polite. We live in a society that is constantly barraged by noises and messages. There is hardly any quiet time in our lives anymore. "We live in a society where we are constantly being barraged by noise and messages. From radio broadcasts, news channels, music in elevators, stores, and most businesses, to the rings of our phones, to the constant chatter of people around us. We often feel with so much going on we don’t have enough time to communicate what we need to communicate. We are fighting with so many other sources of noise." So when we do get a chance to talk, we feel its necessary to cram in everything we need and want to say...all at once. For we never know when the next opportunity to speak will come. When we resist the urge to "toss in our personal 5-cents worth" and give others an opportunity to express themselves, we show them respect; respect and common courtesy.
I for one believe the world could do with a lot less noise and a little more quiet. How about you?
Dharma and I had a lovely exchange this morning...each allowing the other all the time necessary for them to speak.. I also learned that the next time a friend or family member has a problem, that it can be most helpful to say nothing at all. Silence really is golden.
I invite you back here tomorrow for another blog from yours truly. Until then, my dear reader, I wish you