The Power in Silence

The Power in Silence

Effective communication, conversation and consultation are vital in our support of others to learn about, and discern risk. So vital in fact, that if I were asked; “what is the one of the most helpful things that we could do to better support others in dealing with risk? I would certainly include conversations high up on the list.

So this sounds pretty straight forward right? We can better support others simply by striking up more conversations, by chatting with people more, or by having a yarn?

But is it that simple? And, if it is, why do so many of us struggle to do this well?

In this piece, I ponder on how we can make our conversations effective. In particular, I explore the power that silence may play in this.

While it may seem counter-intuitive (particularly for us in the western world), silence can be one of the most impactful, and influential, part of any conversation. If our focus is on others, speaking less and listening more, are critical ingredients in the mix of what makes a conversation effective.

That is, when we direct our attention to what Buber calls, ‘meeting’ people, rather than simply existing with them, this is when we really join in relationship with others. Sometimes it might be what we don’t say that can create ‘meeting’, rather than existing.

Sometimes not responding with answers to questions, or concerns, is the most powerful response. And sometimes, when we allow the space and time for thinking and reflection, this is when others can learn so much.  If we see our role to provide answers and solutions to every problem, perhaps this is one of the things that makes silence in conversation seem counter intuitive, and uncomfortable.

So why can silence be so hard to deal with at times? Why may we find it awkward and distressing? And, why do we so often feel the need to fill the space of silence with words and constant chatter?

I share my reflection on this HERE.

Beware – Hazardous OINTMENT

Beware – Hazardous OINTMENT

One thing that I have become deeply aware of over the past few years is the impact that social arrangements have on us, especially in how we make decisions and judgments about risk.

Many of our decisions and choices are impacted, often through our unconscious, by a multitude of factors from the world around us. However, we can easily be seduced into thinking we are ‘in complete control’ of our decisions,
but are we? We’d probably like to think that we ‘make a choice’ in every decision we make, but do we? We often believe that we are individuals, and our choices and decisions are ours alone, but are they?

These are some of the questions that occupy my time in thinking about decision making in risk.

Our social arrangements and the impact of the environment we live in are so powerful, and critical, in our decision making, it can often be challenging to; first, recognise what arrangements are impacting on us, and secondly, to make sense of them. I suspect that many of us blissfully go about our lives without being very aware of the impact that organisations and cultures (i.e. social arrangements) may be having on how we think and make decisions.

I imagine many organisations similarly struggle to both understand, and deal with, the same challenges.

So why is this?