As many parts of our society re-open and we enter a phase of the “new normal,” quiet time has never been more important.
We’ve become a plugged-in world. It’s not just the office, with its constant stream of interruptions, meetings, and distractions. It’s outside office hours, too, that seem to offer no respite from noise.
Zoom meetings disrupt home routines. During a relaxing dinner out, even if we’re chatting face to face with a friend, we abruptly ignore them to answer our phone.
We even take our phones into the bathroom with us. And into the bedroom…
Do we even remember what silence is? Most people shun it and have become so used to 24-7 noise that they’re uncomfortable in the silence.
And yet, silence is a powerful healer. The more hectic our lives are, the more we need silence. Our souls demand it.
Scientific data notes the mighty benefits of silence – its restorative abilities not only reduce stress, but can increase creativity, cognitive functions, and elevate mood.
Take a moment right now – in the silence – and discover why silence is truly golden – and good for your overall wellbeing.
Structured Silence: Going Beyond the Noise
What do author JK Rowling, psychiatrist Carl Jung, and Governor Jerry Brown have in common?
They all credit dedicated periods of silence as a component of their success.
The busier our lives are, the more critical it is for us to cultivate times of silence.
Silence fuels the brain, boosts energy levels, and even increases production of brain cells.
Recent research confirms the benefits of silence:
- A study by Imke Kirste of Duke Medical School discovered that silence can stimulate the development of new brain cells in the hippocampus – the area of learning and memory.
- Psychologist Jonathan Smallwood discovered that creativity was boosted when one is able to be in silence and focus self-generated thought – thoughts that occur when the mind is not interacting with the outside.
- Physician Luciano Bernardi discovered that just two minutes of silence between musical pieces created more balance to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems than even ‘relaxing’ music.
The Impact of Noise in the Workplace
On the flip side, noise in the workplace can harm morale, creativity, and production.
- The Journal of Environmental Psychology published a 2013 survey study noting that participants working in open floor plans were frustrated by distractions that they felt held their performance back. Nearly half the 43,000 employees surveyed felt the benefits of increased interaction of open floor plans were outweighed by the negative effects of increased noise levels.
- The New Yorker reviewed research on open-plan offices and discovered that it did not enhance employee performance: it hurt productivity, attention spans, and hindered creative thinking and satisfaction.
“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.” ― Frank Ocean
Quiet Introvert or Bold Extrovert Leader: Which Style of Leadership for the Future?
Extroverted leadership is openly exhibited in politics, leading many to believe that the louder one speaks, the more boastful one is, and that bragging about achievements and being a noisemaker comprise a great leader.
Not so fast.
New research has discovered that for tackling the historic challenges of the world today, a quiet and introverted style of leadership may be the better way.
In an Open Learn article, we read that the value of introverts, notably in leadership, is not valued enough – this according to Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” She cites two notable introverts: Steve Jobs of Apple and physicist Albert Einstein.
The Hidden Power of an Introverted Leader
Research notes the benefits of introverts in leadership positions. Introverts:
- Tend to listen to their teams more
- Are humble, and more likely to give credit to their team
- Give more thought before taking any action
- Are unlikely to jeopardize performance by seeking greater benefits, such as money or power
This might be surprising to some, but it’s true: the workforce is made up of 40-60% introverts. Their success in leadership positions comes in their ability to listen – not to react – but to respond. And in today’s turbulent world, listening is a greatly valued trait.
Words Aren’t Everything: Silence in Leadership
Successful leaders know the value of silence – it can speak louder than words.
Avery Blank offers leaders ways to make the most of silence in her Forbes article:
The value of silence can:
- Highlight a point. Fewer words means we’re heard – when it matters most.
- Cultivate trust. To build trust, we must listen –dominating with excess chatter does the opposite.
- Empower others. It allows our team members to speak up with their ideas and give them opportunity to lead. It builds respect – and boosts our impact and reach as leaders.
- Bring power during business negotiations. Silence can be a strategic tool that leaves a person wondering what you’re thinking.
Every leader should make a daily commitment to silence – even for just a few moments.
In the busy, noisy, congested (and increasingly digital) world we live in, many may think silence is meaningless, that it’s empty space that must be filled.
We’re so busy listening to the world that we don’t take time to listen to ourselves, to self-reflect, to let our brains immerse in quiet healing, to take note of things we’ve overlooked.
And just as importantly, silence helps us hear things that are drowned out in our plugged-in world – leaves gently rustling on a windy day, birds singing their melodies, even the songs of evening insects on a warm summer night.
Sure, many people want to be seen – and heard. But the most important to first see and hear is ourself. Until we can do that, we really can’t do much of a good job seeing or hearing anyone else.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” -Ram Dass
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Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.