Saturday, February 04, 2017

Knowing When To Shut Up Has Become One Of My Super Powers

Wisdom comes with experience, a willingness to learn, to admit when you're wrong and be brave enough to change. One difference between my adolescent self and my adult self has been largely in my communication. Our innate survival skills require that we adhere to a level of selfishness as we grow, to make sure our needs are met by our parents or caretakers. The communication we use at this level is very much "me me me", "gimme gimme gimme" and less thinking before speaking. As we move from selfishness to contributing members of our households and then our communities, our communication needs to become more thoughtful, thinking ahead about what consequences, good or bad, will come from the words we speak. Obviously some mature more than others and at different rates! Beyond this is an even more rewarding and effective level of communication wisdom: Silence!

Here I've made a list of the power that lies within silence. I bet there are even more ways silence can work for you, but these are some I've experienced for myself. As you read, I hope you can imagine instances in your life it could have worked for you as well and you are excited to exercise silence in the future!

1. To relax
The first time I really wished I had shut up was during my first professional massage. As a young adult I wasn't very comfortable with silence yet so I filled it! By the end of my first massage I knew every detail about my masseuse's separation from her military husband and this had robbed me of any relaxation I could have achieved through the massage. When I later discovered I was an empath, I made sure I controlled how open I was to hair stylists and massage therapists from then on and I've even told them at the beginning of the session that I may just close my eyes and relax during my haircut or service. It's really added value to these experiences. You can't buy this level of relaxation, you have to shut up to get it!

2. To express disappointment
In a dispute with a loved one, it's tempting (especially when you're young) to throw something resembling a tantrum to express your anger and disappointment. This is reactive communication vs. pro-active communication. Reacting this way is more impulsive than conscious and only encourages your opponent to respond in a like manner. By expressing your disappointment and then letting the situation "breathe", you will likely have a better result; the other person can think before they react, coming to their true conclusion sooner and hopefully returning to you with tact, respect and maybe even remorse. After I found this worked with one person, I applied it to all my relationships; game changer!

3. As damage control
If you find yourself on the other side of scenario #2 and your opponent is disappointed in you and knows the power of silence (you've heard of the silent treatment), It's easy to grab a shovel and dig yourself a hole talking. Rather than being defensive and saying all that you can in your defense, you too, can let the situation breathe and return with a thoughtful, meaningful and memorable response that represents you the way you want to be represented, with dignity. This also works in scenarios where your opponent isn't disappointed with you, but you are not getting your way (for example, with customer service) and are very angry or heated. I have charmed the pants off customer service by letting situations breathe and/or "sweethearting" them. I have caught more bees with honey!

4. To get a better deal
Salespeople rely on you to act impulsively without thinking. Store planograms design impulsive shopping around the cash register to get you to add on to your purchase at the last minute. Ads print "while supplies last!" and "this weekend only!" to activate the panic that gets you to buy. This gives the illusion that they are in power of your shopping experience. Well they aren't, if you exercise silence! When I'm in contact with a salesperson who is pressuring me to buy now, I do the opposite. I tell them I want to think about it, sometimes I add the time frame of "overnight" and I'm often responded to with an even lower price or better deal, if not at that moment, the next day. Some may think that haggling better prices requires you to offer, receive counter-offer, offer, receive counter-offer. I've found better luck with meeting a hard seller as a hard buyer.

Ivy Brooks works as a freelance copywriter using the art of language to achieve the business goals of her clients. In her spare time she takes classes about writing, internet marketing, business and various topics and writes creatively to expand her portfolio. She welcomes you to contact her for a free consultation about your current project or business and how she can assist you with her talents. Her email is

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