As with many proverbs, the origin of “silence is golden” is not definite. The first example of it in the English language was apparently from the poet Thomas Carlyle who translated the phrase from German in Sartor Resartus in 1831. In that translation, silence was compared to speech – “speech is silver, silence is golden”. In an effort to become masterful in managing conflict I thought it may be an idea to consider how this expression may apply.
Being present and listening to what the other person is saying goes a long way in any circumstance. It is especially critical when we are in conflict. This is for many reasons, not the least of which is experiencing the value of curiosity and the possibility of learning something we don’t know. That is, though we may not always like what we hear, remaining silent as the other person talks through her or his views helps us to gain clarity on assumptions we are making and to gain perspectives we may not have. Silence is golden at these times.
This is not to say ‘do not talk’. It does however, suggest listening to where the other person is coming from before speaking, judging, casting aspersions, or operating primarily on what we perceive but do not know for sure. Likewise when we silently listen and demonstrate we are open to hearing and understanding, we model an approach that acknowledges the other person has something important to say and inherently requests to be heard for what we too have to offer.
When is silence not golden, you may ask? When it is used as a way to ignore, avoid, dismiss, or put down the other person. The ‘silent treatment’, as it has been referred to, can create negative reactions and does not serve a positive purpose when it comes to conflict.
When answering the questions for this week’s blog, consider a conflict in which silence may have been a preferable choice to what you said during a conflict:
What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?
Originally posted on www.cinergycoaching.com/blog/