Leaders: Learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable silence

Tuesday Tactic: Surf the silence. 

I often hear inexperienced (and experienced!) podcast interviewers ask a good question and then, while the interviewee is formulating an answer, fill all the silence by elaborating.

Drives me nuts!

We also do this as leaders.

We step on the silence. 

We ask a hard question and when the respondent needs a moment to organize their response, we start adding. More words. More elaboration. More qualifications. 

Learn to surf the silence. Meaning, learn to be comfortable with silence that might otherwise be uncomfortable.

It’s a skill. 

During professional coach training, the instructors always urged us to ask shorter, more succinct questions and then wait for the response. They urged us to sit in the silence.

The instructors said, “the silence allows them to formulate a thoughtful response. If you keep talking through the silence, they will get distracted. Distracted people never get to the good stuff.”

The harder the questions, the more time you have to allow for an answer. Surf the silence.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on January 28, 2020

You Might Also Like…

The sound of your work eulogy

What would your work eulogy sound like? Maybe that opener sounds a bit morbid. The idea isn't about dying, it's about...

The 737-MAX has a trust problem

The 737-MAX is back in action! Now, if you had to board one tonight how you feel? Would it soothe you to know that the...

How gracious can you be?

How gracious can you be? That email with just enough snark. The person who is 10 minutes late to your virtual meeting....

A-Players consistently invest in themselves. Take the next step.