I worked with silence yesterday. I didn’t look at my email until after 11. I didn’t check into Twitter until much later. I didn’t play the radio in the car. I didn’t turn on my amazing Sonos S5 player at my office when I got there in the afternoon. I just stayed silent.
Noise is Often a Reflex
What I learned was this: we often make noise out of some kind of reflex. Sometimes, if someone steps on your foot, you’ll say “ow,” even when it doesn’t hurt. It’s a reflex. Sometimes, you’ll say something because it’s what you think you should do. There’s a lot of noise that comes out of us as reflex.
Silence Helps You Listen
Listening is truly one of the best tools that social media ever gave us. The ability to monitor and listen and use this information to better understand how people interact, what they want, how they complain, and to earnestly listen with the goal of being helpful in some way, is a downright super power.
Silence in Print
I’ve unsubscribed from another 20 or so newsletters lately (mind you, I’d never subscribed to any of them, but people feel that because they have my email address, they have my permission to fill my box with their noise). In every case, the reason I eventually noticed them and unsubscribed was that they mailed me daily. It’s one thing if I’ve opted in. It’s another if you’ve swiped my address and think I want to hear about your stupid products daily.
There can be beautiful silence in print. Even if you sent a daily email, but it was brief and supremely helpful, what you leave out would contribute to the beauty of the remaining silence.
Silence Frees Up New Ideas
The best thing that happened in my silence yesterday was that I came across an idea. I was reading a book and thinking about my own speech content. It dawned on me that it was time my speeches got a bit of an overhaul, and that I streamlined my production methods. I wouldn’t have heard this if I was busy speaking and answering and telling people this and that about the day’s events. It just wouldn’t have come.
Work With Silence
Schedule it. Try it. See what you can do with it. Turn off your email notifications. Make your phone silent. Make your Twitter and your whatever stop blipping and poking and blinking and updating you. See what it means to have your head in one place for a while. Even in doses. I promise it’ll be interesting.