Silence can be powerful, strong and authoritative. It can communicate more than a thousand words. Silence can demonstrate that you are not to be messed with. It can represent resistance, disdain, indifference or even outright rejection. It can prompt others to rethink their position. Silence can give you time to reflect. It can be a simple pause in a conversation that has not concluded. Ultimately, silence is the only way to halt a discussion you do not want to have.
In our culture we tend to demonize silence as a way of being uncooperative. We believe that it is rude to be unresponsive. Some people cannot ignore a ringing phone or knock at the door, even though these attempts to reach them are uninvited. Good manners dictate that we answer emails within 24 hours. We accuse others of screening our calls as if it is our right to connect with someone at the time of our choosing. We don’t acknowledge that a ringing bell, a beep, a knock – are all interruptions. I’ve seen this compulsion to respond taken to ridiculous lengths around texting in particular. [Read more...]