Most people don’t know the meaning of true silence. There’s always some noise: the slight hum of electronics, traffic noise, your dog walking across the floor. I have trouble sleeping in hotel rooms because they’re often too quiet; I can’t hear my dogs whimpering or shuffling in their crates. If they do have noise, it’s the wrong kind of noise: people partying, doors slamming, toilets flushing. I love silence. Almost as much as I love music. Sometimes I will have nothing on inside my car so that I can be alone in the silence with my thoughts.
As a therapist, I think silence is so important when I work with people. When I’m not filling the air with questions, comments, observations, when I just sit in silence, sometimes people find something to say that I never would have thought to ask about. Silence is a mark of true listening.
Next time someone comes to you and wants to talk, instead of thinking about what you want to say or how to respond, try to give them a moment of silence. Don’t jump to fill the air. Pause, and see what they have to say. You might be surprised.