Listen and silent have the same letters.
This statement struck me that day and has stuck with me ever since. I have thought about the implications of this simple observation. I have reflected on the times when I failed to listen well. I have observed what other people do that sends the message to me that they are not listening.
Too much talking, or lack of silence, is the common thread through virtually every conflict situation I have experienced that escalated quickly to anger and frustration by one or both parties. In this case, I am not referencing the type of silence associated with withdrawing from the situation. I am, rather, focusing on the type of silence that gives you the time to absorb and process information so that you can make an appropriate response to what the other person says or does.
In both my observations and my reflections, I see that silence is not just the lack of talking. True silence, for the purpose of listening, involves silencing the mind as well as the tongue. To be silent, we have to stop the desire to plan our response, look for what is wrong in the other person, defend our position, or justify our past actions.
To listen, we must be silent both externally and internally.
Thought for Thursday – Look for opportunities to practice intentional silence with the goal of understanding the perspectives of the people around you.