By Keith Coats
Norwegian explorer and author, Erling Kagge, is someone who knows a thing or two
about silence. In his insightful book, Silence, Kagge unpacks the power and importance of silence in an increasingly noisy world.
Kagge spent 50 days walking across Antarctica in perfect solitude. His reflection on the
experience has become a best seller – perhaps because he touches on a yearning for
a lost nuance of life?
It is hard to find silence and it is hard to be silent. Noise surrounds us and the
temptation to contribute to that noise is ever-present through our access to, and
obsession with, social media.
In our noisy worlds, silence has become the unwelcome intruder and disruptor. Silence makes us uneasy and distracted; it is a strange perversion and something that has been magnified over time and through technology.
Kagge writes that he likes ‘the idea that experiences of silence are an end unto
themselves. Their value cannot be weighed and measured like so many other things, yet silence can also be a tool’.
We all, and especially leaders, need to understand silence as an experience (as an end)
and ensure that we both possess and use silence as a tool.
Here are three experiments that you can try in order to ‘engage the silence’:
Quit all social media for a month. Yes, a full month! Keep a daily journal as to what it was like – here would be some helpful questions for your consideration:
Start and close your meetings with a period of silence. I would suggest one minute. You
need not offer an explanation for doing this other than to say that this is what is going to happen. See what the reaction is and persist with the action for a period of time, maybe even gradually increasing the time of silence. See if it becomes a habit and finds a permanent place in your ‘meeting culture’. At this point step back and discuss what it
was like and distill the benefits that have resulted (there will be benefits!)
In whatever meeting you find yourself, be the last to speak.