Gulp... When silences last for more than 2 or 3 seconds, we feel uneasy. Those fleeting moments can seem like an eternity and we instinctively feel the need to fill them by talking, clearing our throats or coughing. For proof of this, we need only listen to the radio or watch a TV programme, where every pause is filled with background music created by professional “sound designers”. However, as we will see, silence has many benefits...
Talk less, listen more
Silence can be powerful. By pausing for a moment once the person to whom we are speaking has finished their sentence, we encourage them to tell us more. This means that we get additional better-quality information, basic facts or extra details.
- Silence gives us time to analyse what has just been said, organise information in our heads and structure our thoughts.
- It also offers us some respite to prepare counter-arguments or anticipate what might come next.
- When we speak following a silence, our words are more powerful, better formulated and get more attention.
- Silence is a mark of respect. By remaining silent, we show the other person that their words are important, that we are listening, are interested in what they have to say and are reflecting upon it.
- Remaining silent for a moment after the other person has finished speaking helps to create a calm, more relaxed atmosphere.
- Those who have the confidence to remain silent inspire trust in others and convey a certain sense of calm.
- Silence is a way of adding depth and avoiding the addition of redundant information simply to “pad out” what you are saying.
- It can help to draw attention to an important idea when talking about a particular skill.
- Silence can show an interviewer that you are serious and interested in the post being discussed.
How about you? How do you deal with silences during an interview?