The Power of Silence

For someone who talks as much as I do, writes as much as I do, and makes a living with words, I’d like to use a few of them to praise the power of silence.

silence_good_anwerThe first time someone ripped into my book on amazon, I wanted to respond, show them how wrong they were, prove (with a flourish) they hadn’t read the book. I gave it some thought, even wrote a draft. And a tiny voice whispered in my ear, “Do you really think you will change this person’s mind? Make them come to their senses? Suddenly burst into tears, beg your forgiveness and re-write her fury into love? Well, no, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So I spared myself the fingers and editing and said nothing.

Had I taken up the sword, the critic would have simply dug in her heels and insisted she was right, and more so. Saying nothing, keeping silent, was an excellent choice.

Recently, I wrote a review of a book that had (in my opinion) flaws. Carefully couching the critique in words that showed it was simply my opinion and taste, I said the book didn’t strike me as either a memoir or a history, and explained why. Someone, possibly  a friend of the author, wrote a comment pointing out my mistakes and how I clearly didn’t understand history or “get” the brilliance of the book. Again, I chose silence.

There is power in not arguing, not proving our point. It’s more than not having to be right, it’s letting the other person’s view stand in the open, giving it space to be an opinion and stand for itself.

Enjoy_the_Silence_by_WickedNox1Yes, sometimes we have to stand up and speak out. Social justice issues can’t be kept quiet. But the majority of the responses aren’t about social justice, they are about control, or needing to be right, or just being heard. And for that, silence is a power that has strength.

Quinn McDonald is enjoying some silence as she prices items for the garage sale this coming Saturday.

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20 thoughts on “The Power of Silence

  1. Pingback: Link Round-Up » Pierced Wonderings

  2. Yknow, yes, silence is language all it’s own. If I’m romantically interested in someone and discover we can’t spend time together in silence comfortably then invariably the relationship is a short-term one.

  3. Anybody that doesn’t understand the power of silence can try this little experiment. Next time, in the middle of a heated argument just shut up and be done. No faces, no gestures, just exhale and be silent. Then let it go. It feels wonderful and your partner in conflict won’t know what to do but eventually be quiet as well (usually).
    Thanks, Quinn for some really great advice and perfect for the season!

  4. I’m doing my best to practice silence in family “situations”. For too many years, I was right in the middle…defending my position, arguing about what I thought was right and constantly feeling like I was in a soap opera. I still have a long way to go in not to taking the bait, when my buttons are pushed, but I’m so much better than I was 10 + years ago. I’ve come to realize that someone else’s opinion or belief is just that…THEIRS. So rather than argue, I do my best to stay silent or at least acknowledge that it’s their truth and their story.

    This is going to become my new mantra, “There is power in not arguing, not proving our point.”

  5. I pretty much stopped reviewing books I did not like. I was being contacted by the authors and asked to take the reviews down. Huh? What is the point of that? I am now silent unless I have rave reviews.

  6. Thankyou….reinforced my conclusion this week to try and learn to keep my big gob shut! Pretty hard after 50 years of ranting and putting over my opinions….time to shut up I think. Xxx

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