How to become more comfortable with awkward silences

Silence may be golden, but it is also strange. In our noisy world, long quiet breaks inspire many of us to jump in and fill the void. However, instead of being afraid of silence, Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz, authors of Golden: The Power of Silence in a Noisy WorldSuggest hugging it.

“Whether we are talking about auditory noise that is decibels in our ears or informational noise from the massive dissemination of information that is available to us, noise creates more noise,” Marz says. “And then there’s the internal chatter, worry, rumination, worry and planning for the future. We mistake this tension and noise for being alive.”

one in 2014 study at the University of Virginia, undergraduates were left alone for 15 minutes in a sparse room and without cellphones or entertainment. They were given the choice of sitting quietly or pushing a button that administered a painful electric shock. Two-thirds of men and 25% of women chose to give themselves a shock as a form of stimulation rather than just sit quietly without doing anything.

“Awkward silence is a real issue for people,” Zorn says. “When you are face-to-face with another person or group of people, you are faced with what Nietzsche called the horrors of the vacuum of space and nothing more.”

As Zorn and Marz point out, our entire economic system is wired towards maximum noise.

“This is the way we measure GDP,” Zorn says. “A pristine forest counts for nothing to GDP, unless you cut it down and sell the lumber for lumber at Home Depot. You can say the same thing about human attention. Moments of quiet, pristine awareness, such as a walk in the woods or making or appreciating art with your children are not considered positive for GDP. Our society and our communal life have been wired for as much noise as possible. ,

But silence is not a serious and solitary activity, according to Marz, who notes, “We as a society have used silence and respected silence at celebrations, milestones and cultural events. Together we Would like to welcome him back to the foreground of our way of living.”

set up criteria

Ironically, finding comfort in the workplace with silence begins with more conversation.

“It’s a look at your criteria,” Zorn explains. “How do we treat noise distractions as a group when we work? Often, constant interruptions are expected, be it email interruptions [or] Notifications. Open Office plans often complicate these issues. ,

The authors suggest trying an ancient Japanese beauty theory called ma. “Ma means empty, negative space,” says Zorn. “Ma also means pure potential. At work, this would mean revering, respecting, and creating open spaces.”

Ma can be physical, such as having empty spaces in buildings that provide a sense of calmness and clarity. And this can mean adding space to your day, such as leaving free time between meetings, rather than scheduling things back-to-back. Or it can block time for intense, thoughtful work.

“We need Ma at work so we have the ability to listen,” Zorn says.

Use silence in meetings

While brainstorming sessions are usually full of noise, they also provide a perfect opportunity to introduce silence. Zorn suggests adding a minute or two of silence during the meeting, allowing employees to think before sharing ideas.

Or create a silent brainstorming session with the Post-It Note Gallery where people write down their ideas and post them on a wall. Then, participants can gradually brainstorm ideas and vote for the best.

Silent brainstorming sessions provide new opportunities for intelligence to come in or be exposed, which can be especially beneficial for employees who are more introverted.

“Typically, brainstorming is related to the loudest and loudest atrocities,” Zorn says. “Giving space allows for reflection and allows calmer voices to come through on teams and groups.”

Use silence during conflict

Silence is also a force that can balance anger or stress at work. If people are getting agitated during a meeting, the authors suggest asking for a period of mass silence. Silent breaks can help people focus and calm themselves before moving on.

“Silence is not forcing a resolution before the group is ready,” Zorn explains. “It’s just making sure people are present and listening. The silence of the group forces everyone to move to a place where they have to leave their verbal positions and arguments and seek a shared space.” One has to connect with the underlying energy.”

Whether it’s during a meeting, a disagreement, or an intense work session, sitting in silence can take courage because it’s uncomfortable.

“We need to be able to be quiet together,” Zorn says. “The experience and power of silence increases when it is shared.”

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