|Decrease Stress, Increase Happiness Series:
By J. Arielle Golden
They say “Silence is golden,” but they weren’t talking about me. I have gotten myself into more trouble and caused myself more stress because I didn’t know when to keep silent.
Dr. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People changed my life. His fifth habit is: First seek to understand, and then to be understood. In other words, be quiet and listen.
Much of the stress in offices and at home involves working with other people. When we stop listening to one another we end up angry, frustrated, and stressed.
I often hear people say things like, “Why don’t they do what I tell them to do?” Or, “Why are they so illogical?”
When we listen to people we can find out the answers to these questions. Maybe they didn’t do it “our way” because they didn’t understand what we said. Maybe their actions seem illogical to us but are perfectly logical from their point of view.
The only way to discover this is to be silent while others are talking. Silence includes the words coming out of our mouths and the chatter in our brains.
When I began to practice silence, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt pressured into giving an immediate response in all situations. I found I could work with the other person to discover solutions, or just listen to what he or she had to say.
Silence allows others to hear themselves. The next time someone is angry, try being silent. Let the anger roll past you instead of taking it personally. Let your thoughts be silent too. Avoid trying to fix or change anyone. By letting others blow off steam, they will often calm down and find their own solutions.
Another benefit of silence is not saying something we will regret the moment it is out of our mouths. We can apologize all we want, but hurtful words are never truly forgotten. Silence gives us the time to think through our reactions and decide how to respond.
So when you are angry, try silence. I suggested this to a woman who said, “But isn’t that rude?” What is ruder: being silent or saying something you will regret? When pressed for an answer you are not ready to give, ask for time to think about it.
Then, take a moment to practice the stress reduction steps we have already discussed. Pay attention to your feelings, breathe deeply, and change the energy by smiling.
Silence is also the basis of most meditation techniques. If you have a meditation technique you use, keep doing it. If you don’t meditate, find a technique that works for you. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated to help us relax and release stress. Just taking time to be by yourself and silent for even a few minutes can work wonders.
Remember this sage advice: It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
J. Arielle Golden is a highly sought-after seminar leader, business consultant, and a Licensed Heartmath® Coach. Ms. Golden brings a rich tapestry of experience and knowledge to her keynotes and seminars. Here are just a few of her most requested programs: Communication and Collaboration, Listening Skills, and Developing Your Emotional Intelligence. To arrange to have J. Arielle Golden come into your organization to present a custom program for you, contact our Enterprise Learning Solutions department at 1-800-344-4613.
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I'm working on the opposite problem. I naturally filter my thoughts and words, but too much, so I find I don't speak my mind when I should. Not speaking up to contribute to or clarify a situation can be just as detrimental as rash words and not listening to others. It's about balance.
Excellent words of Advice. And Practicing this mode of thinking makes Perfect!
I agree totally. Silence sometimes is a better answer then blurting something out that should not be said at all. I imagine myself taking a step back instead of answering too quickly. Taking a step back and gathering my thoughts and telling myself not to react. Think first and act when my thoughts are clear.
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