0.07 seconds. That’s how long it takes to make an initial impression of the person you are communicating with. It takes you 0.4 seconds to blink. Imagine that, you form an initial impression of someone in less time it takes you to blink.
Have you ever wondered how many conversations are going on in the world right now? The transfer of information via communication is the currency of the modern world. Knowledge is power and communication of that knowledge, well that’s the real gem. That’s the secret to great decision making.
There are a lot of articles about the art of good communication in decision making. Talking is the blood of an organisation. However, there is a distinct lack of articles about being quiet. I mean, what to do when you’re quiet, how to listen and what a benefit it is sometimes to zip it. How being quiet
In fact, you could destroy yourself professionally if you spend all your time talking and no time listening.
Communication is Good When You’re Quiet
There is so much to be learnt in the words that people are saying. Only then can you make a good decision. When you’re quiet it’s an opportunity for you to listen to the conversation and understand what’s happening. So often it’s the case that you are too busy thinking about what you want to say that you forget to listen to what the other people have to offer.
We all do it.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what other’s think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”
We’re all too busy thinking about ourselves, what we have to say and how we articulate our points but what about what someone else has to say, if we’re all worried about ourselves, no one’s listening to them. And that’s your secret weapon.
You might be thinking ‘yeah but it’s not hard to listen is it?’ but I would disagree, it’s incredibly hard to listen. To listen carefully means to understand not only what someone is saying but why they are saying it, going further, how they are saying it. The way people convey a message tells you much more than the words that are coming out of their mouths. For instance:
- The pace of the message might tell you the confidence level of the person talking.
- The tone of the message might tell you something about the mood and feelings of the person talking.
- The words used might give you some insight into the psyche of the person talking.
Communication is a two-way street. The more talking you do, the less someone else does. It’s a game of giving and taking. If you are constantly talking it means other people can’t express their opinions and opinions might be exactly what you’re after.
Being Quiet Gives You Time to Think
In a two-way dual of communication, talking can impede on your thinking time. Being quiet gives you that time back. If you are constantly thinking about what you have to say it leaves little time to think about what the other person has to say.
If they get 5 minutes right at the end of a zoom meeting, it’s likely that the meeting hasn’t been as productive as you may have liked.
When you sit and listen to the conversation you develop the skills to think on your feet, to respond in a clear, concise manner to the points that are being raised. It’s quite hard sometimes to provide clear ideas on something that’s just been raised. Sometimes you need time to digest and understand. The more time you take to hone that skill, the quicker you train your mind to think deeply and quickly.
And that adds real value.
Your ability to digest information and come up with things that might challenge that train of thought or idea will save a lot of time in the long run. Making impulsive decisions can sometimes be the Achilles heel of a business but they often need to make decisions in a timely manner.
Honing the ability to make good, sound decisions quickly is a skill for life.
Being Quiet Gives Other People the Opportunity to Talk
Diversity of thought is hugely powerful in a business. Being able to get a solid overall view of thoughts is good for business. It’s economical because it’s good for decision making. The loudest person in the room might get their point across clearly every time but it’s not good for business.
Diversity of thought is where the money is.
Just because someone isn’t saying something doesn’t mean they haven’t got something to say. They just might not be as confident in their opinion. Inviting other people into the conversation builds the environment into a place where everyone’s opinion is welcome. And that’s when the magic happens.
How to be Quiet and Listen
According to the late author Judith Glaser, there are many things you can do to become a good listener and part of it starts with intent. In fact, Glaser makes note of 4 key pillars of a good listener:
- Intention first — make sure you go into the conversation with good intentions, the intention to listen.
- Use your head and heart — try to work out the what and the why.
- Empathy — try understanding the other person’s perspective.
- Show you are engaged — give the conversation your full attention.
Being quiet is a secret weapon. It’s a weapon that you can use to your advantage time and time again. Being quiet gives you time to understand the conversation and digest what’s going on. It gives you insight into how other people think and what they want from you. Importantly it allows other people into the conversation, people that might not always get a look in.
When it comes to being quiet it’s not about taking a back seat, it’s about understanding what’s going on so you can make the best decision possible.