You may not realize it, but the problems you are facing right now at work or at home may very well be traced to silence. YES! Silence is deadly. In Week 34 of Clarity we discuss the potential results of silence and how it affects relationships and work environments. For those who have not yet purchased the book Clarity: Focusing on What Matters here is the entire weekly read for you to preview and enjoy.
Silence Isn’t Golden, It is Destructive
We may live in an era of email and smart phones and wireless networks. Yet in virtually every employee survey, communication tops the “needs-improvement” list.
Problems in communication can mean inaccurate information or insensitive comments. But a huge chunk of it fits in the negative category of not communicating information. The lack of communication.
I have a client whose vice president has gone silent. The man is taking days to reply to e-mail messages and voicemails, is forgetting to include subject-matter experts in strategic meetings, and is not making crucial decisions.
My client hesitates to directly ask the VP, who in the past has shot down such questions. So my client finds himself filling in the blanks. He’s questioning his own worth. Am I the problem? Should I start looking for another VP? And he’s not the only one affected. The whole team’s efficiency has halted, deadlines are being missed, morale is plummeting, rumors are flying — all because we have a VP who is unresponsive and “too busy” to deal with the team.
When Silent, People Fill in the Blanks
People don’t like “dead air.” You’ve seen it in conversation: people inevitably fill a too-long silence with a comment or question. It’s the same in work and personal relationships, only on a larger scale. People can’t help “filling in the blanks” caused by lack of communication and leadership. They speculate as to why the silence in so deafening. And soon the damage is done.
The truth is, trying not to cause problems by not doing any harm is not being a good leader. It’s abdication. Not saying anything in fear you’ll of saying the wrong thing is not only good communication. It’s cowardice. If you’re not leading, you are following. There are no extra credit points for not doing anything wrong, especially if you haven’t done anything at all.
So take note: You need to use your words! Communicate or pay the price. To the listener silence communicates a lack of care, concern, and value. To the one being silent, you can’t hide, you must face your fear of doing something wrong — and do something right.