There are times in all our lives where learning to be quiet can be quite powerful. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the people who are the quietest. What do you think goes on in their minds? For some, they are feeling invisible. They hear everything. They watch everyone around them and absorb information like sponges. Others may be bullied to the point where if they speak up, the bullying will get worse. I remember watching a movie years ago called “What Women Want” with Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson. In the movie, there was a woman who was contemplating suicide and Mel Gibson’s character heard her thoughts and was able to prevent the tragedy from occuring. Many people are not this fortunate.
I know several people who are too quiet for their own good. They have been victimized more times than I care to count but they choose to be quiet. One of them explained why she remains quiet. She informed me that she is watching and learning so that she knows what is going on around her. If she speaks up, she loses the ability for the element of surprise. In her case, she’s planning on exposing bullying in the workplace. Others have their reason to keep quiet but I found in speaking with several folks that it’s fear that keeps them from voicing concerns.
Being quiet can translate into the ability to “listen”. As I have learned many times in my life, listening is a skill that can sometimes be difficult. I’ve found for a few folks that the quieter they are, the more they have been able to truly listen to their surroundings. Our working world has changed drastically over the last twenty five years. We now have more freelancers, bloggers, artists, remote workers, and an influx of millenials ready to take over the world. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that a lot of folks who are not in their age bracket, have had to adapt to the changes that are being brought forth. There’s always been resistance to change. Listening can be one of the most resourceful and powerful tools for leadership. You don’t have to be in a leadership role to execute listening abilities. It can truly make or break a situation, a company, or relations between customers, staff, and executive management.
Being quiet can also equate to appearing open minded about projects. While I don’t necessarily like it when I get projects that I don’t really want to do, I’ve found that when I don’t grumble about them, I tend to get further. It’s amazing how when we don’t necessarily voice complaints over doing work, we tend to get more accomplished. A lot of people spend more time complaining about the work than doing it. When you focus on a task, then you can get the projects accomplished and hopefully receive projects that are more fun in the future. Impressions count. Little things that we all tend to do at times are noticed.
Being quiet can also allow you to be present. Look, there isn’t a single one of us on this earth that is immortal. Letting someone know that you are there for them and vice versa can be the greatest gift ever given. We never know what is going on in someone else’s life. We do know that it’s the little things like just being there for that person that can make all the difference in the world. People need to feel valued. They don’t need to feel judged. There’s enough people in the world to make up for that skill. Not to mention that if you are at work and are present with the people you work with, you can make work much more bearable for someone or even yourself who is struggling. Being present doesn’t mean looking at your cell phone every second. I’m horrible about this. I do a lot with social media and I’m constantly reviewing the analytics and people don’t think I’m listening. In truth, sometimes I tune them out so I’m taking my own advice. I can dish it out because I’m just as guilty. At least I can admit my faults.
When I say be quiet, I don’t mean shut your mouth all the time. Make sure that you are asking questions along the way. None of us know everything and knowledge really is power. I tend to hold a lot in sometimes and questions have never come easily for me. This is a skill that I am constantly working on. My shyness can often overtake to the point that others have asked why I didn’t ask questions. If you are like I am, questions may not come to you when you want them to. Start writing out questions before hand. It really helps. This is because there is an energy to silence. It allows all of us to make better, well informed decisions, and not rash and rushed ones. Better decisions allow for better money, time and organizational management. It really does pay off.
By asking questions, being present and just listening, you can start to open up worlds that didn’t exist before. It can be really difficult to not get upset with employers. I’ve been there one too many times and made so many mistakes that I’ve now begun to learn just how powerful being quiet can be. When we are quiet, we are the loudest. That’s because our being quiet allows us to see the world in ways that we never would have.
If you are already an exec who has mastered these steps, kudos to you. I guarantee you though that most of your assistants have a better understanding of what goes on in the office that you aren’t aware of. Assistants are powerful. They have learned to be the eyes and ears of the company. They should be one of the top contenders for many jobs but are often overlooked because they are considered to be like a “secretary”. It’s difficult to change perceptions. Yet, if you are able to listen to your surroundings, you might be able to hear things you never would have before. Don’t worry so much about grumbling. Just be present, stay quiet, and learn. There’s always times to make your voice heard. Choose your battles and lead by example. You never know. Doors may open for you that were closed before. Opportunities don’t always become available. Use them wisely.