“People Just Like You” Series – Dolly Parton “You will never do a whole lot
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Benjamin Franklin
Make your Silence Golden!
The proverb silence is golden dates as far back as the origins. Ancient text and philosophies extol the virtues and pay credence to silence as a mark of wisdom, sensibility and self-control.
Silence is a powerful tool, when wielded correctly it can achieve great results. When used wrongly it can be a weapon of mass destruction. I will put it this way; silence is a two edged sword.
But is silence really golden? Yes! It is. No, it is not! Context is key.
The application of silence is what determines if it is golden or otherwise. This brings into question the motive behind the silence and preconceived result one hopes to achieve at the end. Let’s face it, being able to stay silent in the face of intense, deliberate provocation will be considered a virtue while being silent when you are required to speak up to better clarify a sticky situation can show cowardice or mischief. Words are like missiles; they could hit hard. They can cause pain and hurt that may be irredeemable. Words of love and compassion soothe and comfort a person.
How do you use your words? How do you use your silence? – please reflect.
When is silence golden?
When you cannot control of your emotions – we all have those moments when our speech cannot just be seasoned with salt, it is better not to speak than to utter words we will regret later on. Saying exactly how you feel at that moment might just be a catalyst for disaster. Staying silent in moments of anger has been proven to an effective diffuser of tension. If you are feeling the urge to mention something destructive, pause and take a breather, disengage from the trigger, leave the environment, reassess and regroup, take the higher road, you will be better for it. In short, it’s often better to stay silent rather than blurting out something which may make things worse or create misunderstandings.
When someone speaks to you in confidence– Silence can be a very powerful way to “be” with another person, especially when they are troubled. It can communicate acceptance of the other person as they are as of a given moment, and particularly when they have strong feelings like sorrow, fear or anger. This kind of silence means being willing and able to give the other person your full attention. Making appropriate eye contact, and gestures like nodding, leaning forward, smiling, frowning, and other facial expressions which let the other person know you really hear them.
Being quiet and not saying anything gives them the space and uninterrupted time to talk about whatever is on their mind. When another person has a decision to make, a problem to solve or simply a need to express themselves, silence can often provide the opportunity for them to have time to talk, reflect and decide without outside pressure.
When incubating an idea– there is wisdoms in making silent moves when birthing something new. Sharing your vision too early may invite unnecessary negative criticism that may dampen your enthusiasm and derail your plans. Protects your energy, not everyone is going to see the beauty and potential that you see and you can’t expect them to. Not everyone wants to see you win. This doesn’t make them bad, no one is immune from casual bouts of envy, but vibes are real and transferable. Your dream is in its embryonic stage right now and that kind of negative energy can be detrimental. Let’s say someone does share the enthusiasm for your idea, that may not be a good thing because placed in the wrong hands, your brilliant idea can become your worst nightmare. Sometimes you have to play your hand close to your chest.
When you do not have all the facts– keep silence instead of passing on half-truths and rumors. It is honestly unbecoming and earn you the label of a gossip, someone whose words cannot be taken to the bank. Instead of speaking unpleasant things about others especially when it may be false, it is always a good idea not to judge and to remain quiet. Nobody has the right to portray a bad image of someone else in public. It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.
When full disclosure will not help– some matters are better kept private. Sensitive details, Medical records, financial crisis, and whatever information will produce unnecessary panic should not be discussed carelessly especially when disclosing such information will create more harm than good then it is better to stay silent.
When avoiding baseless conflicts– I’m not saying to always be silent to avoid conflict, since effective resolution brings about growth. However, not all arguments are worthy of engagement, and oftentimes, there are petty arguments that come up. It is a waste of time and precious energy. If someone is trying to tug you into some argument or debate that adds no value, just tell them you’re not interested and remain silent. Always remember; the man who has something to say and who is known never to speak unless he has, is sure to be listened to.
When is your silence not golden?
When you are a coward– you know clearly for a fact that something is wrong and you willfully look the other way then your silence is not golden, you are simply a coward who will rather ignore a problem than raise your voice for or against an issue. What you have done is to compromise your principles for the fear of harmful consequences or greedy gains. It is better to speak the truth than to remain silent and let injustice continue.
When a crime has been committed – knowing a crime was committed and staying silent is complicity. You are equally as liable and should be charged along with the culprit. Crimes should be reported and you are not applying wisdom by keeping silent rather you are aiding and abetting crime. Do the right and dutiful thing. Speak up when you have an idea about how to stop injustice or abuse (whether you are the victim or just a witness) saying nothing abdicates control and allows for the status quo to remain intact.
When you need help – keeping quiet when you need help is self-sabotage. No man is an island, hence a need for communities. If you do not speak up and ask for support no one will read your mind or offer you possible solutions to the situation you need help with. Do not suffer in silence reach out to your tribe for necessary assistance.
When it will make interpersonal relationship difficult – this is called silent treatment and it is a manipulative, negative trait that stems from an inability or unwillingness to communicate effectively. True communication can only occur when there is mutual understanding and deep respect for each other’s position. When we are offended or hurt, respectful conversation is the only tool to resolve issues and repair relationships. Remaining silent and refusing to talk is a form of aggression and totally ineffective.
When your silence can be misconstrued – yes, silence may be golden. But it is better to speak up when your silence may be misconstrued as an acquiescence to a wrong deduction. Don’t just stand by and be a passive observer of something that you don’t agree with. It is important to speak up and let your voice be heard. If you say nothing, people will either think that you agree with what is going on, or that you are too scared to speak out. They will, however, remember that you were silent on something that mattered. So, don’t be afraid to let others know what you think.
In conclusion, Silence is golden but it also has its downsides. Being silent does not mean that you are dumb, it conveys a lot of message in an easy manner. However, we are duty bound to speak out in certain situations. While at points in time, saying nothing is the best answer, there are situations where speaking out is the way to go.
Here is to knowing when to shush and when to speak, may wisdom be always profitable to direct.
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