In our increasingly busy lives, with a constant flow of information it is easy to overlook the effect of being quiet. Taking time to marshal our thoughts will enable us to clarify our thoughts, and give space for the others we work with. Silence empowers others to come up with answers.
In the last Teal Exchange in July, I was reminded of the effectiveness of silence. One of the sessions was an introduction to the Quaker Business Method facilitated by Eoin McCarthy. It is unique in that meetings are held with an intent to forge a common decision. This is summarised with the phrase “Unity not unanimity”. Accepting that it is OK to not have everyone’s agreement for a common decision.
Unity not unanimity.
How this is achieved is by using Silence to powerful effect. This silence is coupled with a clear light framework to run the event.
Each meeting is chaired by an appointed clerk. Their role is to listen to the meeting and guide the meeting towards a minute which is agreed by all present. The clerk is responsible for providing any relevant information to people before the meeting.
Everyone else attending the meeting agrees to work within the meeting process. It is a space of respect, where you may be invited to share your opinion – and listen to other opinions.
This process was completely different to every meeting I had experienced. In the session at the Teal Exchange, there were around 30 people in the room – and there was an overriding atmosphere of calm. While I was not invited to speak, my thoughts were reflected in what other people said. The silence made the conflict of perspectives very objective, and people had time to distil their thoughts, resulting in much shorter clearer statements.
Since the workshop I have used the power of Silence with great effect.
Are you using enough silence?
How could you use moments of silence to focus (you, your team, a meeting)?
What is the smallest way you could test the idea of silence?
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