The Power of Silence


Modern lifestyles are outward focused. It is all about presentation, gift of the gab and getting attention. Our usage of the social media highlights an insatiable “need” to be the “centre of attention”. If we scan the history books, all great people are bestowed with one admirable trait: the power to be quiet and calm. Many people confuse silence with being afraid to express oneself. Let me clarify: The power of silence means the ability to stay calm in a tempest. It means waiting for the right moments to express oneself. The ability to listen is far greater than the ability to express beautiful words. An avid listener makes a good conversationalist not only because (s)he wants to hear what the other person has to say, but also because (s)he can carry the conversation in the right direction that has the interest of both people.

I am a cricket fanatic. I follow and play the game with great zeal. One my most admired cricketer is MS Dhoni. He is totally unfazed by the crescendo of the noise around him. He keeps his mind calm. People who remain silent amidst chaos have the ability to think straight. They are very reliable at times of emergency or a crisis. They simply take the right decisions.

Today, there is an information overload. We are always engaged in some form of mental or physical activity. The ability to remain silent, to build a wall of quietness around you is rarely desired by people or they find it impossible to do so. Yet, the people with the power of silence find that “holy spot” and spend time to take a fresh breath and rejuvenate themselves. The most surprising thing is that it does not take much time nor does it require a special space. Yet, people never find the time to do so. The irony stands out: you speak to any person and all they seem to seek is a moment of peace and silence. Most of us forget that the power of silence is within us. We need to practice it regularly to make it instinctive.

I was travelling to Bangalore. There was a huge rush at the airline counter and people were getting restless. The situation was really tense and the inevitable happened. One set of passengers clashed with the ticketing staff. The manager came out, and took all of them to the side and listened to their problem. In the entire time the passengers unleashed themselves on him, he did not say anything. He looked right into the eyes of those people, nodded his head affirmatively to let them know that he understood their problem, put them at ease with his soft words and managed to calm them down. He called his staff members and suggested an amicable and practical solution to the problem at hand. It was admirable. The other set of passengers who were agitated were told that the staff is working out a solution and they will ensure a speedy check-in. A crisis averted by a cool and calm mind who had the sense to put his ego aside and resolve the situation. That is the good thing about the power of silence, ego never gets in the way.

Take out time every few minutes in a day, preferably in the morning. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, breathe deeply and let your mind rest. Observe how the rest of your day goes without any conflicts or arguments. Such people may express their anger at some point of time; but when they do, they do it for the right reasons with the intent of communicating that the power of silence is also a source of great strength should the necessity arise. Again, I say, never confuse silence with being afraid. It is about using your voice and words at the appropriate time.

Suresh Nair