Silence by Sharon

“He had occasional flashes of silence
that made his conversation delightful.”
–Sydney Smith


I have had an amazing parade of wonderful people visiting and staying with me for the past four months. I have loved it. The last visitor left today and it is very quiet. The silence is so delicious, I find myself reluctant to turn on the radio. That deliciousness leads me to reflect on silence:

  • I once attended a Quaker gathering where the focus was a topic of great interest.  There were only 2 rules:  1) each person had to speak before any person could speak a second time, and 2) after each speaker there were 2 minutes of silence.  It was profound.  Imagine how this format would change business meetings!


  • Miss Fuller, my childhood piano teacher, once chided me for speeding through a piece.  “Without the rests, the silences, there is no music,” she said.


  • When people experience a moving moment together – whether in the presence of remarkable talent or an authentic expression of a deep truth – the immediate, spontaneous response is not applause.  It is deep silence.


  • One of the hardest and most important skills in coaching is being silent.  It is amazing what people come up with when you give them time and your quiet presence.


  • My very first coaching client wanted to be a better conversationalist. When she practiced being silent and really listening, she forgot about her nervousness, wanting to say something clever, and became more genuinely interested. She was amazed that people began to seek her out, calling her a great conversationalist.


  • I first realized I was falling in love with my husband Hal when we drove into Pittsburgh together.  Our conversation included long, comfortable silences.


  • The silence of meditation is especially powerful.  “I have so much to do today, I need to meditate more than usual,” the Dalai Lama said.


  • Of a distinguished general it was said that “he could hold his tongue in ten languages.”


A wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard:
Why can’t we all be like that bird?


Coaching Questions

  1. When is the last time you noticed and appreciated silence?
  2. How might you grow the silence in your life? (Consider turning the radio or TV off, especially when you aren’t really paying attention to it.)
  3. What could the benefits of more silence be – for you AND for the people in your life?
  4. Practice being silent just a little longer than usual, when in conversation.

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