It’s not the sound of silence. It’s the meaning of silence.

communication eq leadership Jun 15, 2021

What Does Your Face Say When You’re Silent?

A client gave me this sign. We are both obsessed with words and how to use them.

I spend all day talking. Or listening to someone else talk. I think about what to say back to an executive, guiding them in what they say or write. 

I make it easier for them to communicate. To get it out, get it sorted, get their desires, asks, and concerns out

Many days around 7 pm, I feel as if I lose my ability to speak. I can no longer help someone think about what to say or what to write. 

Silence is my preferred language for the first 30 minutes upon returning home (and for the short commute from my one-person office suite).

My kids are teenagers, so silence is frequently the language of the house. 

I try not to read into it. Even when my kids don’t speak, they say a lot—with their faces. 

I can push and get answers from them when I need to. And since I live with them and have known them so long, I can accurately read what they say when they’re not talking.

And sometimes, I am silently correctly the grammar of my kids, as the sign above states.

Silence may sometimes be my language as a mom. As a parent, guardian, friend, sibling, etc., silence is often the best way to communicate. 

Silence is not the language of leaders.

And yet, silence is what leaders regularly tell me they are using as their language. 

We get on a coaching call—whether 1:1 or in a coaching cohort—and someone describes a challenge and then expresses:

  • I’m not going to say anything
  • I didn’t say anything
  • I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing
  • It won’t help to say anything
  • I didn’t know what to say
  • I don’t need to say anything. They know how I feel and what to do.

I repeat: silence is not the language of leaders.

People don’t get it. They won’t get it.

Silence is how you listen. Not how you lead.

Last week the CEO of a team I’m coaching didn’t want to share feedback. She felt she would be disrespecting the skills and experience of her team if she talked about their ineffective behaviors with them. 

Silence = a lack of accountability.

If you think your team, peers, and clients "get" what you are saying when you don’t speak, then the Great Resignation will force some words out of your mouth. And those words will probably be ones you shouldn’t say out loud.

You can silently correct someone’s grammar, yet as a leader, silence is oftentimes your enemy. 

What do you think? Don’t be quiet. Please tell me or book a call.

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Lead with ease,

 

Leila

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