I’ve recently gained a new perspective on silence. Silence is tremendously powerful. It’s demanded from a speaker in an auditorium giving a lecture. The silence we, as an audience gives to the speaker, is really, an incredible gift. We all collectively, as an audience of hundreds or sometimes thousands, give the speaker our attention. But really what we’re offering is the opportunity for some silence. If embraced, silence can help calm the soul or allow one to gain some clarity or perspective. It is a powerful tool if used properly, but silence can also be quite dangerous if misused. A relationship, whether with a loved one or one you gain through a sale, can be destroyed by silence.
My new perspective has come in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With everything being stress-level midnight in the world, I’ve been doing my American best to help when I am needed. Such as:
But sometimes what I have been offering has been at silence, like at work.
Don’t stir the pot at work, especially right now, was a general thought for the last two and a half months for me. Control what you can control and shut up. This is not an uncommon thought. It’s actually quite common in the world. For some, it’s a bit of a philosophy. They don’t call it “The Silent Majority” for nothing.
So, after successfully smiling and nodding for 2 months, a moment came where my silence broke in the form of a meeting with my team at work. A project on our team was going to be green-lit using a vendor that I had trust issues with. I had sent the vendor logo artwork to be produced on a metal sign and the proof given back to me looked completely different than the artwork I had given them. The fonts in the logo were different and it seemed like he had altered my design. Stressed emotionally from all the other things happening in life, I was furious. How dare they? I thought.
I came out guns a-blazing, “I think this really shabby work and I don’t feel comfortable moving forward with this vendor.” After elaborating with my team and stepping off the figurative roof ledge that I was on, wiser words were gifted to me: “Why don’t you call the vendor and see where the disconnect was.”
Easier to just cut ties and find someone else, I thought, which is POSSIBLY true. It’s possible to find someone else who could do it better. But possibly not? Why is cutting ties with someone and just running away such a simple solution for everyone? Why is “ghosting” a thing? We know there’s a chance it can easily bite us back. We know in our hearts that silence in these instances is not the solution. So, I called the guy up and get this: We had a pleasant conversation. The font change was HIS way of doing his American best to fill our needs as a business. Oh. I thought. This person was not trying to ruin my day. He was simply trying to do the best he could with what was given to him. I felt like a real turkey. We got on the same page with each other, and as of writing this article, we are still doing business with the vendor and from my point of view, I feel our relationship has grown because of speaking up.
Expressing concern is uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially when it’s so much easier to go with the flow. But like any river flowing, plugs along the stream will create dams, and it’s important to address the plugs when they occur. You may accidentally block an idea from making its way downstream if you’re not careful. Look at your life and see where silence can no longer be a solution. I have been truly grateful for the meaningful conversations it has brought to my life.