When is silence kind and unkind?

When is silence kind and unkind?

The gold in silence is in using that time to think of a progressive, healthier, and kinder response. 

When is silence kind and not unkind. Practise softness.
Supplied by Jane Linely-Thomas

Staying quiet and not responding can be useful in some situations. This is especially true in a world where instant responses are increasingly expected, and where more and more people are getting into serious trouble for not thinking their responses through. Enter the Twitter wars and other social media bullying. There is no doubt that is adding to a growing feeling of stress and anxiety amongst all of us.

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There is a golden space between feeling and doing. This space or pause allows us to think about our thoughts and feelings in a situation, and how we want to respond to them. Thinking about our choices gives us the chance to respond rather than react. And this allows us to say and do things which are good for us and better for the situation. We can create this pause by putting down our phone, walking away, asking for some time to think about the situation, doing something else before responding (even if that’s making a cup of tea!), or asking for help or advice before responding. No one said that blue ticks have to be responded to immediately. That’s an unhealthy pressure we’ve created, and one we can fix by letting the people we love and work with know that we might not always get there straight away. It can be useful to let the people you work with know how long it generally takes you to respond (like a couple of hours or a day), so that everyone’s expectations are clear.

 Of course, staying quiet in some situations also allows us time to listen more than we talk. This is useful when are trying to understand another perspective or person. We can all get better at hearing other people’s viewpoints and values before feeling like we’ve got to share or defend our own. Hearing someone else’s opinion can be valuable, and doesn’t mean that yours doesn’t count.

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But ‘ghosting’ or ‘stonewalling’ is another kind of silence altogether. This is when we intentionally don’t respond to a situation or person at all. This is often because we want to protect ourselves, or hurt or punish the person on the other side. By not responding or saying anything, we can leave the person on the other side feeling confused, hurt, and anxious. This can have devastating effects to not only the situation and our relationship, but the way that person feels about themselves. There are other ways to deal with our confusion and hurt in these situations. Like, leaning in and having the hard conversation. This is an important part of growing relationships and improving situations. And can be done in a way that is a constructive rather than hurtful. An important thing to achieve this is focusing on the facts and the situation and don’t attack the person. If it feels hard to have the conversation, ask someone to help you. Prepare for these conversations by writing down what you need to say before.

There are clearly kind and unkind ways of using silence. We need to be more mindful of how we are using it as a tool in our everyday life.

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