portrait photo of woman in yellow t shirt doing the shh sign while standing in front of blue background

By Monja du Ploy

I am sure you know the saying “He/she is the strong silent type? I just read an interesting article written by Tim Denning on numerous interviews done with the actor, Keanu Reeves. He fits perfectly into this category. According to Wikihow, ‘A strong and silent type is generally thought of as someone who projects a real sense of self-confidence and assurance, without coming across as arrogant or dismissive of others.’

In society and the workplace, we associate someone that talks the most, as the stronger more experienced person in the room. But is this always the case? By strong, I mean in the sense of presence. It takes more strength and discipline than we realize to be quiet and actively listen with understanding. A silent but observant nonparticipant in a meeting or conversation will undoubtedly change the atmosphere in the room. Before long, someone will notice and ask for your opinion. Rather than just saying something for the sake of speaking, think about the question and then respond.

Being noticeably quiet creates anticipation, expectation, and curiosity, but also brings a feeling of calm and clarity. Sometimes it is good to take time and smell the roses in our never-ending rushed lives. Have you ever after a meeting or conversation is over and you have time to think and process, said to yourself… why didn’t I say, or I should have done…? Therefore, it is so important to practice the art of listening. I loved the question raised by Denning in this article “What if doing the opposite of loud was really the answer to being heard?” (Source: Tim Denning on Medium)

I am not saying that the silent people are the intelligent ones or that the loudest person in the room has the lowest IQ. Some people are just shy, reserved, or maybe insecure and therefore not so outspoken. On the other hand, some people just know when to speak and when to keep quiet and that by listening more, give responses worth listening to.

Actor, Bruce Lee could not have said it better – “Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory”. (Source: Susan Z on 7thsensepsychics) We are all different, some people come from families or cultures that are loud and eccentric, and most of the time they draw their energy and motivation from others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For others, being alone and quiet is an opportunity to “recharge”, gather your thoughts and focus.

Being silent is also an answer… meaning “no” of course. Have you ever heard this saying? So why is silence so intimidating and noisy? Is it because there are conversations happening in your head that have your thoughts racing and all over the place? Sometimes it is more stressful and exhausting to be continuously busy and entangled in our thoughts. Being silent gives us time to reflect.

There are just so many sayings and quotes around the topic of silence and the strength relation thereto. From the book of prosperity comes this – Do not kill people with kindness, because not everyone deserves your kindness. Kill people with silence, because not everyone deserves your attention. How powerful is this!

Florence Nightingale was one person that believed that silence is especially important for her patients. That is why most hospitals have certain visiting hours so that patients get enough rest as part of their recovery process. Noise can add to anxiety and stress and is especially unhealthy if you experience this daily. It is a definitive handbrake for productivity and creativity. We all have our moments when we want to listen to music as loud as possible while we work or go to the gym or just to unwind.

Meditation benefits cannot be overemphasized, and this is an entirely new topic. It improves stress levels, health, and mental wellbeing. Meditation is best practiced when your surroundings are peaceful and quiet so that your thoughts can be directed to relaxation and so improve your immune system and overall health.

Controlled silence is indeed a strength and a skill. In conclusion, this is a well-known quote from the Dalai Lama – “Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness. Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength”.

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