Using your silence to communicate

Dec 27 / Metron
It's a tough job being a manager and a leader. You have to make tough decisions and you're always finding new ways to help people understand decisions. Sometimes you feel you have to think on the spot. It can be very draining.

One tool that new managers can use as an additional technique is the power of silence and non-verbal cues. This is not only a great way to relieve pressure on you thinking on the spot or finding the right phrase, it can also be beneficial for your team by giving them cues and soft landing before you communicate something challenging or difficult to digest.

Among some of the greatest leaders take a moment to reflect before answering. They gather their thoughts. They use non-verbal cues and gestures to get the point across without even saying anything. 

There is no one size fits all and in some situation as a manager or leader you will find that if you used non-verbal cues you could have better diffused a situation and allowed more ideas to surface or better energised a team. 

Watch the famous video of Steve jobs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeqPrUmVz-o 

Why is staying silent so difficult?

Here's why new managers struggle with nonverbal cues and we'll go through three tips to master the art of silent and non-verbal communication:

1. The Fixer Fallacy: managers often fall into the "fixer" trap, feeling the need to immediately solve every problem presented. Prior to becoming managers, new managers especially are used to "doing" and delivering tasks to specific deadlines. Naturally this leads to a fixer mindset and the need to be always doing or talking in this case. 
2. Answer ASAP:  The pressure to have all the answers can be crushing for new managers. But rushing to conclusions and interrupting thought processes with premature solutions can stifle creativity and discourage open communication.
3. Fear of the Awkward Silence: Silence can be unnerving, especially in high-pressure situations. Managers often jump in to fill the void, missing the goldmine of unspoken thoughts and emotions hidden in a thoughtful pause. It's ultimately a skill to use non-verbal communication as it's not something that is natural or an area we are trained in.
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3 tips to master the awkward silence!

So, how do we overcome these challenges and harness the power of silence and body language? Here are three tips:

1. Embrace more silence: the more you practise the more comfortable you will get. So find more awkward silence moments. You can pause after you speak. A well-timed pause can lead to deeper insights and richer discussions. During the silence count in your head till 50 to avoid you speaking. You can stop your sentence mid way as people might have expected you say more. But this forces you to wait for the person to respond. 

2. Observe the Nonverbals: Pay attention to facial expressions, posture, and hand gestures. They can reveal anxieties, excitement, or hidden reservations that words may not express. You can also use your own body language to communicate something without saying it.

For example, if you're not sure about an idea but don't want to upset someone, you can say, "let me have a think for a second". Most people will clock on that you're immediately bought into an idea or that you simply need time to reflect.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions:
Instead of offering solutions, ask questions that encourage elaboration and invite others to share their perspectives. Letting others speak means you're listening and staying silent more. This fosters collaboration and builds trust.

Conclusion

Remember, true leadership isn't about having all the answers; it's about creating space for others to find their own.

So, new managers, embrace the silence, listen to the whispers of body language, and let your communication and unspoken words ease the pressure and communicate for you.

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