"Silence is not what happens after we stop talking - it is the platform from which to speak."
— James McPartland
Speaking will teach me nothing about another person, nor about myself. The greatest opportunity for learning is in the silence. Listening to people's words is only the beginning, for if I pay close enough attention to what is not said, I will hear the deeper meaning. I will hear their intentions, their fears, their aspirations. In the best of conversations, communication is a field of possibility where intention, body, and mind become integrated together - connecting to what truly wants to emerge.
Silence is not empty space; it is open space to move into. It is a place of discovery and full of potential. Silence is not what happens after we stop talking -- it is the platform from which to speak.
If it's true that deep down we all want to be understood, then one of the greatest gifts you can give is the purity of your attention. A loving silence often has far more power to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
Put simply - the quality of the conversation is the quality of the relationship.
In my own quest to create powerful relationships, the kind where I demonstrate that I’m truly committed to understanding the other person, I strive to remember to:
only ask questions
not try to solve problems for the other person
not make it about me by telling my own stories
ask what the other person believes they should do next
speak only when I can improve upon the silence
Breakthroughs occur when people come to realize that their challenges - which they initially attribute to forces and characters outside of themselves - need to be first addressed as issues inside of themselves. Silence leads us to discover both the truths and the illusions in the stories we tell about our lives. Silence can lead us to cultivate a compelling narrative about the future. And finally, silence awakens an awareness that if we ever find ourselves inside of the wrong story, we can simply leave.
Silence is one of life's greatest teachers. Will you learn from it?