10/1/12 | 1205 views
Silence in the Workplace
Silence may be one of most difficult virtues to practice in the workplace. Why? Three reasons come to mind immediately:
1) Gossip Is Engaging
2) Society Values Speakers
3) Sound Bites Spur Sales
Let's take a closer look at each of these elements.
1. Talking is fun. Most humans enjoy a lively conversation and even co-workers who are not so gregarious still like to listen, especially to gossip. There's nothing as intriguing as gathering around the old water cooler to catch up on the newest skinny going on behind closed doors. But this is precisely why silence is so virtuous and why it's so tough to do. No one wants to be labeled aloof or be left out of the loop. So we shatter the silence-as well as someone else's reputation-by passing the rumor along. Our excuse sounds logical: If we're not part of the in-crowd, then they will end up talking about us! But therein lies the irony and the vice of idle chatter: Those who talk about others behind their backs will certainly talk about us as soon as our backs are turned. Count on it.
2. Society rewards those who speak. Since most Americans would rather die than give a speech in public, we hold those who are openly articulate in very high regard. Examine the age-old adage in its entirety: Speech is silver but silence is golden. In the business world today, this simply is not true. Those who aspire to ascend the corporate ladder will, sooner or later, be called upon to address the troops. And it will be their speaking, not their silence, that will be applauded and rewarded. Perhaps it's time to consider recalibrating our pay scales to favor those quiet laborers who do their jobs diligently every day without flourish, fanfare or fuss. Only then will silence regain its status as a virtue and its value over speaking.
3. Sell-through speaks to the bottom line. Even in an age that is inundated with silent texting, tweeting and e-mailing, almost every business requires some form of audible interaction to seal the deal. Take TV ads for example. Each year General Mills spends over $1 million dollars to promote Cheerios alone. Their catchy lyrics and musical rhymes have our children singing all the way from the cereal aisle to the checkout counter and their shareholders smiling all the way to the bank. And who can discount the super-slick images and fast-talking hucksters who have raised the bar of infomercials to one of the most persuasive sales platforms for pillows, air purifiers and produce packaging? Plus, if we order in the next 10 minutes, we get two for the price of one! The cacophony of consumerism captivates us into calling in our credit card numbers. If we pressed the mute button on the remote and let the virtue of silence surround us, wouldn't we come away with less debt and less clutter and a much greener world?
For Holy Homework: We can program a soothing alert into the calendars of our cell phones, iPads and computers, or pencil in a personal memo on the desk pad or wall calendar in our office to remind us to spend 10 minutes in complete silence at work, each day this month. If possible, we should schedule this silent reprieve at the busiest part of our day. When the 10 minutes begin, turn off every possible mode of communication or invasive sound, whether that is a preferred radio station, a favorite iPods tune, or even the ticking of an old-fashioned desk clock. Breathe and relax. During this silence we can try not to think, or plan, or worry, or even pray-a virtue that we will explore next month. We can simply experience the silence and let it saturate our souls. After 30 days, we may be quite surprised by the impact.
Comments can be sent to: FatherBobPagliari@Yahoo.com
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