Practicing Silence

Solitude is a spiritual discipline. Solitude and silence go hand in hand.

“Without silence there is no solitude. Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening. Simply to refrain from talking, without a heart listening to God, is not silence.” ~ Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

That’s not all. Silence is a powerful communication tool. My husband recommended I end the post here followed only by blank lines, for effect. But I haven’t mastered silence yet, obviously, because I always have something to say. Words bubble up inside of me waiting to pop out of my mouth at any given moment.

I’m one of those people who thinks every conversation is about me. As a writer and avid reader I tend to have random tidbits of information to share or interesting tales to tell in hopes of adding to the flavor of any conversation.

It rarely occurs to me (usually after the interaction is over) that others may not find my tidbits and tales worthy of conversation. Walking away is the point where I realize I did all the talking and the other person was gracious enough not to call me a conversation hog even though I was …

Sorry, just being straight. I can’t help myself. But I am working on it.

When my husband started seminary 4 years ago, I was a little panicked. The pastors’ wives that I knew seemed to have this wonderful ability to know when to share and when to keep quiet. In my case, there are enough incidents of “open mouth, insert foot” that I couldn’t imagine being a pastor’s wife.

As I attempt to figure out what it means to deepen relationships, I find myself biting my lip to hold in the words. I make an effort to just let the other person share and not act on my need to tell my equally (if not more so) amusing story. Better yet, I am working on staying in the moment long enough to hear what the other person has to say instead of thinking about what I will say next or introduce into conversation.

I realize there is a need for relating, connecting, or identifying to deepen relationships. However, if my focus is all about me I will miss the real opportunities to connect.

  • Dramatic Pause
  • Pregnant Pause
  • Pause Expectantly
  • Waiting with Bated Breath

Silence can be a powerful way of expressing emotions ranging from anger and contempt to love and concern. I am learning the power of silence as a key to deepening relationships. Trust me it is hard work; especially for a self-proclaimed talkaholic who used to say, “I like to hear the sound of my own voice.” Okay, maybe I still say that. But I am thankful that my focus is shifting to others for a change.

If you have ways that you make people feel like the most important person in the room or in a conversation please share. This is a quest like none I’ve ever experienced.

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Comments

  1. You just make me smile! 🙂 And now I will be silent as you continue to talk about yourself!

  2. the husband’s recommendation and your response made me chuckle – maybe even snort a little! and, from my perspective, i think you are a fabulous listener. always.

    personally speaking, i am right there with you sista. yuck – my mouth! i wish i could say that i’ve learned how to zip it better. the only thing i’ve been able to do (in the right circumstances) is jot down a word or phrase when something comes to mind when another is speaking. by doing this, i can focus on them instead of trying to remember what i want to interject or share.

  3. Sorry, no brilliant tips. But I can definitely relate and would be interested to hear how your journey unfolds!

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