Day-of-silence-800x400I haven’t written a blog in a while but this morning I’m super inspired! Let me explain. This morning I met an older lady and for some reason we started a conversation and during that conversation we talked about the recent Megyn Kelly comment (here’s the comment) that got her in trouble. We talked extensively about this matter but one comment this stranger made stuck out to me. She said “sometimes it’s better to just say nothing at all,” basically saying that your opinions and thoughts don’t always need to be made public. This comment stuck with me because lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of silence.

THE PROBLEM

I’ve always been the person that others’ have said is easy to talk to and I think it’s because most of the time I rather listen than talk. I believe we live in a time where most people prefer the opposite. That’s why so many people have been getting in trouble for their social media comments lately. People say things without considering who they could be affecting because they want to be heard and put the consideration of others or listening on the back burner. Here’s what happened with me, being the quiet thinker and listener made some people feel like they could talk over me and dominate conversations, belittle my opinions, and just attempt to treat me like a pushover. I hated being put in that position and became frustrated so I decided to start speaking up a lot more. I thought this would show that I was assertive and confident, which I have always been, but for some reason I felt like others needed to know as well. Fast forward to Kenny today and I don’t think I listen enough, in fact I’ve walked away from conversations without really taking the time to try and understand others. I’ve become the same people that I use to become frustrated by. I feel like speaking up has really gotten me in more trouble lately. I argue more, become frustrated more, and relationships end up suffering. It’s not about who’s right or wrong in these back and forths, it’s about two or more people just talking and being focused on their own opinions and perspective without ever stopping to listen and consider others. You can’t control what others do but you don’t have to let that dictate your actions.

THE SOLUTION

I believe there are negative connotations exclusively associated with silence such as weakness, or unintelligence, etc. I also believe that those connotations can be misconceptions. Speaking up is important but so is silence. Speaking up is important for so many different reason….to let people know you have a voice, to stand up for those without a voice, to stand up to those and try to quiet/dismiss yours and even to make your opinions, thought, and feelings known. However, there also needs to be a balance, because silence is just as important. We often speak without understanding and we don’t understand because instead of listening we try to think two steps ahead and fill in the blanks for the person actually speaking. To add to this issue when someone doesn’t listen to us or attempts to fill in the blanks for what we really are trying to convey we retaliate by doing the same to them. It’s important that we learn to identify when it’s time to speak and when it’s time to listen, this alone can make a huge difference in our relationships. This is a part of effectively communicating. We don’t always need to run to social media to comment on everything, we don’t’ always need to make our feelings known, and we don’t always need to be the ones talking.

THE CHANGE

Moving forward I’m going to try find a medium between my old self and my current one. I use to be really great at listening but horrible when speaking up was important, then I became great at voicing my opinion but didn’t stop to listen to others. Both versions of myself were bad communicators. I initially changed because of other people’s negative actions and perceptions and didn’t even realize that I was building and putting up walls where only my thoughts and opinions lived, mattered and were right. Today that’s going to change. I have to learn to listen to others and be willing to turn the voice in my head down.  I have to realize that not everyone needs to know what I’m thinking and feeling about everything, even those close to me. Sometimes silence is the best reply and can display a lot of wisdom. I’m always learning and growing and hopefully someone reading this has too. I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.