Sometimes, not saying anything is the best answer. You see, silence can never be misquoted. ~Unknown
So many people are uncomfortable with silence. It feels awkward, and in our argumentative, combative world, the concept of answering with silence is practically unheard of. To some, it may appear weak. But silence is a valid form of response, and frankly, sometimes, it’s the very best way to communicate.
Consider the following situations.
- Talking with a friend who is grieving, going through a divorce, or dealing with sickness. These are the friends who need to be heard. They don’t need to hear, “I understand,” or worst of all, “I know exactly how you feel.” Because even if you have gone through loss, divorce, or sickness – every situation is unique. These are the conversations where quiet, empathetic listening is the best conversation you can offer.
- When a conversation about a problem makes you move into “fix it” mode. Not every problem that’s discussed is looking for a solution. Sometimes, a friend just needs to state the problem, then figure it out for themselves. It’s not up to us to find solutions for every problem that crosses our path.
- When you wonder if a joke or statement would be considered offensive. If you’re uncertain, it doesn’t need to be said. Just be quiet.
- When you aren’t sure what you’re talking about.It’s hard to fake expertise when it’s a subject you’re not familiar with… and a quick scan of Wikipedia or watching a handful of YouTube videos doesn’t qualify someone as an expert. If you’re not sure what you’re talking about, silence is your friend.
- When you ask someone a question. Then give them the courtesy of silently waiting for them to finish their response, without interrupting, or interjecting additional thoughts or statements.
- When a social media post goes up that you disagree with. There’s this amazing thing we can do on our computers and smartphones — we can keep scrolling. It’s really not necessary to participate in online disagreements. In almost every situation, silence is your better response.
- When you’re angry. Ah, words spoken in anger. They feel good at the moment, but most often they leave a bitter aftertaste of regret. Take a few moments, a couple of hours, even a day or two before responding. And maybe, even after cooling down, you’ll still find silence to be the better option.
We’re not obligated to participate in every argument we’re invited to, or have answers for word that comes our way. Silence is golden. And as previously mentioned, though some may view it as weakness, the self-restraint involved in staying silent is actually indicative of great strength.
So next time you’re in a position to speak up, ask yourself if it’s better to stay silent.
“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch
“Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.” – Josh Billings
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” – Elbert Hubbard
“Work hard in silence, let your success make the noise.” – Frank Ocean