THE STRENGTH OF SILENCE
Saying nothing is often the best defense.
The power of silence is a tactic it has taken me years to appreciate. My nature is to be understood, get my point across and sometimes because of a variety of past incidents defend myself with vigor.
For most of my life I have taken the position that verbalizing, often loudly or strongly on paper is the best way to accomplish this.
It is just now in my – gulp- sixth decade that I have truly learned, that the old axiom “the less said the better” is often times the best way to go.
It’s hard for me. I will not lie. I’m not talking so much about things like the pizza klatch at Jet Blue the other day, though my lack of tolerance for laziness, inefficiency. and incompetence has often resulted in my “giving my two cents.” Two cents I have learned few people could care less about. The fact is I could have started my own hedge fund with the two cents I have been tossing around over the years.
Most people do not want their faults pointed out to them; nor do they want to face things they may be hiding from. If they have a very well constructed defense mechanism in place the last thing they want is for someone to come in with their “two cents” in an attempt to deconstruct it. And if the unkind and the thoughtless and in some cases the truly demonic, yes, there are demonic folks out there, (and they get their point across in a variety of ways) I have finally learned that by firing back at them does nothing but get them all charged up and reaching for more of their own ammo; which if your nature is to fire back only results in an out and out battle. None of this really accomplishes anything, just one elephant running around in fury and another one trying to talk sense to it.
In the tents of the circus called my life, one of the elephants got loose last week and decided to go on a rampage.
There was a time when in self-defense I would have taken my stun-gun of choice – the only one I really know how to use, words and fired back. But I didn’t. I just sat back and did nothing.
While the elephant did not voluntarily go away, the result was it went back to it’s own tent unable to do the kind of damage it had set out to do.
While I don’t believe or advocate rolling over and playing dead, letting yourself be a doormat, or even not defending yourself against attack, sometimes, silence is really the best counter attack.
But silence from strength not fear, and that is where they part company. Silence out of fear is weakness, while silence that comes from a place of choice is strength.
I do not believe the meek shall inherit the earth. I don’t believe the meek get to do much of anything; they will for sure never work at Goldman Saks, be politicians, good doctors or lawyers, or accomplish much in the long run. From what I have seen the meek will merely get trampled or end up in the back of the room. Sometimes, not always the bullies are meek characters in disguise. And they don’t inherit much of anything either when the final accounting is in.
I believe turning the other cheek is sometimes necessary but all you end up with is two bruised cheeks. The good news is bruises go away and there are many good cover-up creams on the market.
One thing I have learned is shooting my mouth off whenever I feel attacked has more often than not gotten me into worse trouble than I really wanted or needed.
The problem with email is it makes it very easy. In the old days you either had to pick up the phone, and phone calls cannot be forwarded, reread or held onto. Words do often evaporate into the ether and it’s easier to erase their damage.
The old fashioned letter, something I still love took time. You had to write it, re-read it then often times rewrite it. And if it was incendiary in anyway, one was taught to “sleep on it.” The result often being with the next day came clarity, which often softened the anger or need to defend so strongly.
But now, now we have our handy-dandy devices and we can fire off a response to something the minute it pops into our world. We don’t even have the car ride home to think about it.
I truly wonder how many of us have sent emails that we would have never sent had we not been able to do it in the moment.
We are a generation of if not full-disclosure than a lot of it ~ says the girl who will pretty much say anything. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. I think many lives are lived too deep in the shadows. I think many lives are ruined because the shadows become the reality and the reality becomes the shadows.
But that does not mean that our greatest strength does not sometimes come from saying and doing nothing. I have spent my life thinking if they “just understood things would be different.”
I am now learning that if things were different they would in fact be different. But my yelling about it is not going to make it so.