Have you ever run into a situation where everyone’s talking at once, with too many people trying to influence the entire group simultaneously, and you watch as the train goes off the track?
Here’s a quick, humorous story about how we, as leaders, can put silence to work for us, so we don’t have to work so hard.
There’ve been plenty of times in my career as an attorney and then a senior executive that I’ve sat in a room and at a table of powerful people. Let’s call them “power-brokers”.
During idle time, typically before the meeting started, these power-brokers would talk and talk with great bravado to impress one another. They would trade war stories, trying to outdo one another.
They would talk about their angst, their strategies for “winning,” what drives them to anger, and so on.
Often, they would talk about the case, the substantial contract deal on the table, or the negotiation process.
Ultimately, they would share their views of “the other side”.
Most times, I was there as “the other side”.
They didn’t bother to ask who I was, to introduce themselves, or to even acknowledge me. In fact, they would often go out of their way to ignore me.
They thought I was the administrative assistant because I would offer to get their coffee or take their coats while tending to mine.
The power of silence?
They told me everything I needed to know, without ever having to ask. And then, when they ran out of things to say, I would introduce myself.
Silence is a stealth-weapon. It can be used to:
- Strategically gather information that would otherwise be inaccessible
- Hear all parties’ positions to learn the value, strengths, and gaps of each
- Gather viewpoints, align, and facilitate a consensus
How have you used the power of silence to your advantage?