The power of silence

I’m going to make a sweeping statement based on nothing but experience and belief;

Too many leaders spend far too much time talking.

I’m not just extolling the virtues of listening and asking questions, I’m also talking about the ability to be able to hold silence and say nothing. Let me ask you, how many times have you been in a meeting where the most senior person has spent the largest amount of time speaking? And if you’re a leader, how many times have you come out of a meeting feeling like all you’ve done is tell people what to do?

What if you said absolutely nothing. Zip. Nada. Rien.

When we talk about empowerment and building sustainable, resilient teams it strikes me one of the first steps is to hold back the amount we needlessly contribute and focus more on adding value where it is asked for and needed.

The next time you’re in that situation, ask yourself:

  • Has someone specifically asked for my view?
  • Do I have information that I know will help people move forward?
  • Do I have experience that I know no-one else in the room has?
  • Would something dangerous/illegal/costly happen if I didn’t speak?
  • Am I offering something that I don’t mind being ignored?

If the answer isn’t yes to one of these, you might want to check yourself and listen to the conversation before deciding to step in.


Permission to speak, Sir?

Some conversation just “feel” harder to have than others. We all have one or two conversations that we need to have hanging around in our brains. We know we need to have them, but we don’t. We know we would be better for having them, but we have so many more important things to do.


I know, I have them too. Those issues that need to be tackled, those situations that need to be challenged, those problems that are….well problems, that you can’t quite face, but can’t quite live with. We’re walking around with a host of these things banging around in the dark recesses of our brains day in, day out.

Our lives our full, our days are jam-packed with situations that we deal with. But our quiet moments, our dreams, our nightmares are full of situations that we don’t deal with. Such is the complexity and intricacy of this existence that we call life. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t the whole package, but it is everything that we have and all that we will ever have.

The thing that makes these conversations tougher than the others, the thing that makes us hesitate, the thing that makes us put this back to another day, is permission.


The conversations that we have are easy.

The conversations that we don’t have are hard.

That sounds simple, but in many cases it isn’t anything to do with the actual content there is something darker going on in the back of our little minds.┬áThere is something that stops us and it is the concept of permission. We don’t feel that we are able, we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, we don’t want to take the risk.

Yet we all know, that when we find the courage to speak out, when we find the focus to tackle these issues, when we manage to put our fears aside and open our mouths, well then things become a whole lot simpler.

Permission is a nonsense, permission is the crutch of inaction, permission is the excuse that stops you from starting your life. Permission is the kindling of the fire that will make you the person that you can and should be.

Set fire to permission, go ask the questions, go challenge the status quo. Go take a weight off your mind.

You know you’re worth it….and you know things will be better if you do.