By: Kevin Chan
Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “No man is an island”? What about “We humans are social beings”?
There’s an awful lot of bias in our societies today to connect, to socialize (what do you mean here, to connect the biases or to be able to connect and socialise because of the biases?). I can’t remember a time in my life when there wasn’t a stigma around ‘awkward silence’, when being a bit quiet wasn’t largely relegated to the role of the undesirable and the skillset of the unskilled (at socializing, that is). As someone who prefers to be on the receiving end of the conversation, I constantly struggled with thoughts of inadequacy, surrounded by reminders to work on my productive skills – the increased use of spoken words, active response, etc. – in order to be a functioning member of society. And while those are all good things, I just naturally like to stay silent.
After all, just as light cannot exist without darkness, conversation without silence would be…awkward.
Let’s assume that humans are indeed social animals, that they’re engineered to desire conversation. Isn’t it plausible that there might be a day, an hour, when we humans might want to, oh I don’t know, take a break? Isn’t there subject matter that even the most outspoken among us might conceivably hesitate to share in public?
Now, if only there was a useful word for that moment when words did not spill from our mouths when control got the better of us and resulted in just a moment of non-sound. What would that word be? We might call that silence. Silence, in all its misunderstood, understated glory, is the very unlikely stunt double of conversation.
Take a moment – silently, if you would – to consider what life would be without silence.
If vocabulary is the various pieces of wood that will form your new IKEA bookcase, then silence is (this sounds wrong even though it’s grammatically singular lol) the nuts and bolts that keep it all together.
Perhaps shifting the analogy here a bit might make it read smoother. Just as it is important to continue and build up your vocabulary and understanding of phrasal constructions, it’s equally important to get to know what silence feels like in your speech, and how it maximizes the power of your words.
If you want your words to be heard, learn to embrace silence; far from being awkward, it’ll take your conversations to new heights.
SLVC Voice Training in London offers English courses that can help you with improving your confidence in using English with our programmes on English Language Foundations, Business English Training, as well as TOEFL and IELTS Exam Preparation.
You can book a free 30 minute consultation with Kevin here to learn more and to assess your current English level.