The one thing you need for effective communication
Communication occurs during silence
You may not have noticed this before, but during a relaxed conversation between two friends, there tends to be a surprising amount of silence.
Silence aids digestion
As a listener, we need the short periods of silence in conversation to reflect on what’s just been said and respond verbally or non-verbally. Sometimes this takes a moment – other times, a little longer. The response we give, usually a nod or “yes”, confirms to the speaker that their message has landed and communication has been successful.
For communication to work in presentations, meetings or any work conversations we also need silence. We need it for two reasons:
- To give people listening the chance to process the information, file it away in their mental filing cabinet and then to respond in some way.
- To allow the person talking to consider what they are going to say next.
Jamming the silence
Silence is all too often the missing ingredient in dull presentations, lengthy conference calls and verbose meetings. This is usually because people find silence uncomfortable particularly when speaking under pressure or when nervous. The impact of less silence is that communication is wholly or partially corrupted. True communication is about reception of the message; not the transmission.
Think back: when did you last sit through a one-way ‘continuous stream of consciousness’ presentation? It is no fun, mainly because it is about as far away from a relaxed conversation as you can get.
Silence can be uncomfortable, but it is critical if you want to get your message across. Next time you speak, why not try adding a little more?
Let the silence do the work.