Last week I was in a meeting with several others discussing project status. Like many project meetings, this one was full of people talking, but very few listeners. One of the project team members asked me a question, but before I blurted out an answer, I paused in silence for about 30 seconds. For most of us, 30 seconds can seem like eternity. I scanned the room at the other meeting participants, and noticed how uncomfortable everyone was. I simply waited, then presented my answer. I sensed some level of relief from the rest of the room, and the meeting went on to a successful conclusion.

It’s amazing how uncomfortable people feel during silence. As humans, we are programmed to talk – silence is downright scary for some people. As a coach working with leaders at various levels,  I’ve learned to use silence as a powerful tool to help my clients. Silence creates space for us to think, reflect, and respond. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but its when we’re in that zone that we are able to process information more effectively, and sometimes come up with thoughts that lead to a totally different answer.

Silence can also be a much needed interrupter or distraction during a heated discussion. Rather than yelling, or talking over others, simply sit back and shut up! If you’re not talking, the other person will notice this, and most-likely stop babbling.

I challenge you to give silence a try during your next group meeting or one-on-one conversation. Simply pause for 15-30 seconds and notice what happens with others, and yourself during the creation of this space. Please share your experience here, or at

-Dave Nye

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