Silence is Golden – How to Get People to Listen More By Saying Less

The most dynamic communicators I have ever come across don’t say very much.

Instead of trying to talk more and blind people with the level of their so-called intellect, charismatic managers grab attention by treating their words as precious resources. They only speak when they have something to say.

By keeping quiet, listening well and expressing your points in the fewest words possible, you gain a persuasive edge. People give undivided attention to those whose every word counts.

Poor managers:

  • Repeat simple instructions to the point where they bore employees or make them feel patronised
  • Tell long, rambling stories that don’t advance a conversation in any direction
  • Interrupt others and change subjects often

Instead, try to appreciate the power of silence. This isn’t easy. Many people feel self-conscious when there are moments of silence in conversations. Some people think they may appear unsure, uncertain or lacking in confidence if they don’t always have something to say.

Remember that you are always communicating, even when you’re not speaking. So the silence may actually be telling someone something without you opening your mouth. Silence gives everyone a chance to reflect on what’s been said so far, and helps to disarm touchy or emotionally-charged subjects.

If you over-talk, you may bore others, because they may switch off if the things you are saying don’t add any value to the conversation.

When you feel the urge to talk, ask yourself if it could wait. Listen more than you speak. As the saying goes…best to keep silent and people think you’re a fool, than to open it and prove you are one!

So what can you do? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask more questions. Get others to open up. By listening well, you might actually learn something
  • After you’ve asked questions, stop. Give others time to think. Resist the urge to jump in and answer the question yourself. Determine others’ opinions first.
  • Let people vent their anger, if necessary. If someone needs to blow off steam, be quiet and listen for the difference between fact and opinion. Listen for the words behind the emotion and identify the real meaning behind the words. They may say things they don’t mean because of the emotional instability, so differentiate facts from the emotional outburst.

Remaining silent helps you to pick up an awful lot of information. Share your ideas when necessary, but try to keep your ego in check when conversing. That way, you will earn respect and actually learn something!

Thanks again


(Image by Ambro)

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

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Mark-WilliamsMark Williams

Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.