As our world continues to become more fast-paced with the emergence of new technology and overwhelming changes, it’s crucial to hang onto the art of listening. We must protect the time and space needed to truly connect with and understand one another. Though it doesn’t come to mind as readily, this includes listening to what is left unsaid. There is power in silence. There is meaning in our pauses. There are still things to learn as we rest. Above all, there is much to gain from being comfortable with silence that can positively impact your interpersonal relationships, as well as your relationship with yourself.
For the sake of human connection, it’s important that we feel we bring something to the table in our conversations and relationships. Our hobbies, passions, interests and goals allow us to contribute during interpersonal communication. Sharing with others in this way can help you understand your value in others’ lives and how you are appreciated. It’s undoubtedly pleasant to feel that the people around you view you as an interesting individual and, vice versa, to surround yourself with interesting people. Our interactions with others enrich our lives and can inspire us in countless ways. However, it’s important to note that a pause in conversation is not inherently negative. To emphasize, silence does not necessarily speak to how engaging you or the conversation are. You don’t have to scramble to scrape together just about anything to fill in the blanks.
To put it another way, silence is not something you have to solve. According to the 2021 Brides article “Why Moments of Silence Are Great for Your Relationship” by Leá Rose Emery, “Instead of being scared of running out of things to say, it’s important to embrace the quieter moments,” highlighting that “once you’ve accepted it [silence] and even come to enjoy it, it will make your relationship that much stronger.” While Emery specifically refers to romantic long-term relationships, this idea can be applied to relationships across the board. Silence you share with your parents, mentors, friends and significant other can create a level of intimacy distinct from what can ordinarily be achieved through words. It has the ability to let someone know that their presence is more than enough and that you are comfortable with them.
You cannot expect to have enough energy, or a sufficient number of things to say, to be able to fill up every second of time with someone with noise. Nor should you expect others to be able to do so. The good news is that silence is good for you to experience, especially in the constantly moving world we live in. In fact, it can benefit your mental and physical health. According to Cleveland Clinic’s 2020 article titled “An Ode to Silence: Why You Need It in Your Life,” “Silence offers opportunities for self-reflection and daydreaming, which activates multiple parts of the brain. It gives us time to turn down the inner noise and increase awareness of what matters most.” Additionally, the same article underlines clinical health psychologist Dr. Amy Sullivan’s affirmation that “silence helps us develop the skills to have more profound thoughts, stronger relationships, increased creativity, [and] improved communication skills.”
Needless to say, while it does take some getting used to, you should welcome silence into your life, and allow it to naturally flow in and out of your interactions. By the same token, PsychCentral’s 2017 article “The Hidden Benefits of Silence,” medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board and written by Suzanne Kane, asserts that your body is relieved through “lower blood pressure; [a] boost in the immune system; [the growth] of new cells in the hippocampus region, a brain area linked to learning, remembering, and emotions; [a] decrease [in] stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline; [the promotion of] good hormone regulation and the interaction of bodily hormone-relate systems; [and the prevention of] plaque formation in arteries” as a result of increased silence.
We don’t need to be afraid of what will happen when the words run out. We don’t have to immediately greet silence with anguish, discomfort, or uneasiness. The vulnerability that exists in silence can be a beautiful and bountiful thing.