”Being Silent Is Power”

”We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Mother Teresa


With the caveat that power can always be abused, the effective use of silence can bestow many gifts, chief among them:

  1. The ability to listen effectively. Few do it well. Most of us engage in listening only as a way of waiting until it’s our turn to speak. If you can’t resist thinking about what you want to say when listening, focus instead specifically on being silent. You’ll be surprised how much your ability to concentrate will improve. And if you can stop focusing on what you want to say when listening (don’t worry; it won’t go anywhere you can’t find it) and instead concentrate entirely on what’s being said to you, then silence won’t just bring you a new skill; it will bring you new knowledge. Remember that listening is far more powerful than speaking. You learn nothing by saying something (which by definition you already know). Besides, how often are we really able to influence another’s behavior or beliefs by what we say?
  2. A clear view of the hearts of others. Silence gets you out of the way and creates a space others will fill in with themselves. A person’s personality becomes apparent in mere hours to days. Assessing a person’s character, on the other hand, takes months to years. But people remain themselves at every moment. An offhand comment made when you first meet someone may be, in retrospect, obviously representative of a large character defect (or virtue). If you employ silence to listen carefully to not only what people say but how they say it, you’ll find they’ll give themselves away to you constantly and enable you to understand their character far sooner than you would be able to otherwise. Having had years of practice interacting with and observing nuances in our fellow human beings’ expression and tone has made our intuition far more accurate than we often believe. It only requires your silence to give full play to its power.
  3. Attractiveness. People want more than anything to be heard and understood and will find anyone who provides them that feeling powerfully charismatic.
  4. Self-control. Think how much more in control you’d not only appear but actually be your first response upon hearing or seeing something that sparks a strong reaction in you wasn’t to lash out emotionally but instead to become—silent. Silence is a terrific substitute for self-control, not only creating its appearance but over time and with practice its substance as well.
  5. Wisdom. When facing a new challenge, making silence your first response gives you a chance to reflect before you speak, increasing the likelihood that what you say and do will be on target, intelligent, and useful. Further, silent reflection promotes the appropriate use of what we call in medicine a “tincture of time.” If you resist the urge to leap into action at the first moment a problem arises, the problem often fixes itself. In medicine, as in life, sometimes the wisest action is none at all.

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.

Elbert Hubbard

Prior to that conversation during my residency, I’d only thought about silence as something to be enjoyed in solitude and avoided in the presence of others. Now I think about it as a tool I can use to make myself more effective at my job and more understanding of others, and thereby more compassionate, wiser, and happier. Just think how the world would be different if we all spent more time listening. At the very least, it would be a whole lot quieter.


21 thoughts on “”Being Silent Is Power”

  1. If you’ve to be a leader , and especially in a democracy, you can’t be silent! You’ve to be a Cicero. Most of the great intellectuals weren’t that much silent personalities either, else you wouldn’t know about them! Ha Ha. Voice carries momentum, while silence changes nothing, in quite a few instances that come to my mind. When I read about the lives of all great leaders, ‘most’ were great at engaging people around them. I completely agree with the article. I guess the importance of silence shifts depending on the roles you play on a day to day basis. From what I have been observing people who’re not great talkers should better be silent. Or, when your words won’t add much, silence is the way to go. The main difficulty lies to judge when to be silent and when not to be. As I’ve remarked before, it depends on the context and situation. A good listener and a silent person are two different things, I think. A voracious talker can be a good listener, provided he/she knows when to shut down. And to add one more thing, silence can be confusing for the enemy and yes it is powerful, but for your loved ones silence can be a pain in the ass. We expect our lived ones to read our minds when actually it is the most irrational thing to do. There’s a reason behind the evolution of language!

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      1. Of course, it has. There’s something we call a natural disposition. It would depend upon job to job as well. A surgeon is expected to be silent, but the host of an evening show isn’t. And upon situation to situation. Someone’s funeral demands silence, but a party demands certain boisterousness. Attending a football match with a silent demeanour would be opposite to what the situation demands. Silent people are much more rigid in their viewpoints, becuase for viewpoints to enlarge and broaden, you’ve to voice your opinions and thoughts infront of the critiques of your ideas. And face the assault like every debator did in the French halls and saloons of Rnaissance. It is only though voice that evoultion of ideas happen. Silence can be just a comfort zone for many – where they stay to choose to avoid conflicts. But that doesn’t make them right in the first place! Silence isn’t the excuse for everything. There are situations where silence is required, and is a must I must say, but it is not the solution many a times. More of a time, it becomes an escape from something uncomfortable, like a shell protecting your ego. Ha Ha Ha. 😊

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      2. I want you to experiance in that zone than you will realise what actually meant to be silent… have you ever stayed in silence and noticed what going around ..you will find a suitation where you will find being silent cant help alot to avoid unnecceary problems 🙂 thans for writing:)

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      3. Yup! Of course, I have. And I have 2 minutes still left to depart, so let me pen down my thoughts. There are, in fact, innumerable instances when silence is the way to go! I have experienced them. Yes. When you are in perfect harmony with yourself, and with the environment. When silent observations brings a sort of solace to your soul — and peace ensues. When a tranquil gaze at your loved one brings a calm and satistfaction which fills you to the brim of some eternal bliss. Those moments of silence when you are in the laps of nature, and the natural serenity just overwhelms you with happiness. Then, there are situations I remember when I chose to be silent, or when someone else chose to be silent, when silent was the last dreaded thing to resort upon. A miscalculated stance. Silence is beautiful. Yes! But not always. I already enumerated so many situations when silence doesn’t work. And I know plenty of situations when silence is magnificent. But what I’ve realised is that silence shouldn’t be used as a weapon in disguise, or as an escaping mechanism. There’s a certain balance that’s required of it, and people fail to reach the balance quite often. There’s a reason when Trump got elected people all along the world broke their silence. There’s a reason why people under Stalin suffured so much under silence. There’s a reason to every silence, and there’s a reason why not to be silent. A sort of tightrope balancing act it is! Ha Ha Ha. 🙂


      4. Sorry for the typos, just leaving my home. If I chose to remain silent, you wouldn’t think! Ha Ha Ha. There’s a time to be silent, and a time to speak up. The wise find the balance, the rest don’t. 😊 Cya.

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