Silence is a gift that people don't like to accept.
But silence is such an important tool.
In my business world, I've learned that sitting silently in a negotiation can sometimes mean that the other side will continue to talk and will eventually bring themselves to the place where I want them without me even having to say anything. Silence is also an opportunity for me to gather my thoughts before I respond.
In my personal life, I've learned that silence is an important part of being a good friend, spouse, and parent. There are times in conversations where sitting quietly and waiting will yield more sharing from the other person in the conversation.
In my faith life, I've learned that prayer can be very powerful when I sit quietly and just listen to God. If I do all the talking when I pray, there is never a chance for God to answer and speak to my heart.
It seems to be our nature - or maybe our culture - to fill silence with noise. In a group, we keep the conversation going, we crack jokes, we change subjects, we interrupt and talk over each other. When alone, we turn on the radio, the TV, we talk to ourselves or sing out loud.
We can't just... be.
As Will Rogers said, "Never miss a good chance to shut up."
As Woody Allen said, "God is silent. Now if only man would shut up."
As Lao Tzu said, "Silence is a source of great strength."
As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence."
Pay attention today. Pay attention this week. Find times when you want to respond but maybe don't need to. Find times where simply being quiet is enough. Seek silence. You might be surprised to find that you will gain a lot when you stop trying to create things to give in a conversation.