Working with Silence

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in careers, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Working with Silence

A while back I wrote about being ignored on your job search and how preparing to be ignored makes a big difference. The power of the nasty surprise is removed. You’re expecting to be ignored. You’re ready for it. It won’t get you down and it won’t get in your way. Being ignored is all part of the journey. It’s maybe even a guarantee you’re going the right way.

This time around I’m writing about silence. Is getting the silent treatment any different to being ignored I hear you say? Are you ignoring me or have you just gone quiet? Is this just splitting hairs? Maybe there’s no difference at all but if just one person is wrestling with silence – waiting and waiting for communication or connection in response to an email, phone call or any other kind of message they have sent – then the subject of working with silence is important to address.

There are so many reasons for silence and it can drive us mad trying to figure them out. Silence doesn’t just happen on a job search. You can get no response at plenty of other times too. Whatever the specifics of your situation some general features are always the same. You made the last move, asked or answered the last question, lobbed the ball gently back into the other person’s court and you are still waiting for their reply. I could go on forever here about how the next move is still up to you. The ball may have crossed the net but the agenda still belongs to you, especially when your career is the subject. Instead of rattling on I’ll get straight to the point about silence. The net-net is, silence is a choice. Not always directly the other person’s choice but somewhere along the line someone is making the choice not to reply.

When faced with silence it’s natural for us to try and fill in the blanks. Come up with excuses, explanations and hypothesis. Do this too long and it will drive you completely around the bend. In reality silence is an active rather than a passive choice and we have no alternative but to use this choice as data when making our next move and making our minds up. Sometimes we never find out what caused the silence or what the hold up was. All I know is nothing moves forward if we wait and wait and wait for someone to reply. That doesn’t mean we should always force things to conclusion by chasing or hounding (or badgering for that matter). What it does mean however is finding another way, another outlet to move your agenda forward. Without doubt the most productive way to deal with silence is to work against it. To focus on your objectives and create more opportunities for silence to be filled with conversations and replies from more and more of the people and groups you connect with.

I could go on and on about how to work with silence but it’s not my silence I’m trying to break, not right now anyway. When you get no response, no reply, not a word, not a poke nor a comforting you-have-mail bleep, the only person who can fill that silence is you. You are uniquely empowered to fill any silence with your activities, your persistence, your learning and your next response. Oh, and sometimes, that person you were waiting on resurfaces to put you back in the loop. And because you haven’t waited, you’ll have something to update them with too.

* * * * *

[Image courtesy of hippydream on Flickr]
Tell us your stories of silence and how you broke it
Drop us a line here or on Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us on social media