The Sound of Silence: You Need to Talk Less
About our need to keep talking and the benefits of silence
“God is silent. Now if only man would shut up.”
― Woody Allen
We are too used to talking. Anywhere I go, I see an endless chatter about any topic. Most of the time the only thing I hear are completely uninformed opinions, generalizations, and unneeded drama.
We have the wrong idea of having to talk anytime someone is present, about anything, without a pause, avoiding silences, and it is contagious, like with many other bad habits. If you surround yourself with these people, you end acting like them.
It’s an awful habit, and it’s exasperating. As a quiet person, to me, it’s strange the day when someone does not cut me while I’m talking about something just to talk endlessly about any other thing, most of the time, empty of content or value.
Or to be reading, looking for some quiet time and suddenly be approached by someone who will try to talk and talk to me about something uninteresting, and completely irrelevant.
People feel a need to be noisy no matter what as if they were going to disappear if they didn’t talk for five minutes. As if they needed to check their own existence.
This has a lot to do with the ego.
The ego makes us try to catch others’ attention. No matter what. And thus, we try to stand out making the most possible noise, even if it makes us disgusting (actually it’s more complicated than that, but I will cover it in another story).
And when you talk that much, you run out of interesting topics; you find yourself in a repetition circle, always talking about the same things, and not allowing those who could have something interesting to say to express themselves. Preventing the introduction of new ideas that could help you break those habits.
It’s just like an old TV emitting white noise perpetually.
It’s also contagious. When we surround ourselves with noisy people we end acting like them, it is part of our human behavior, that’s why we should choose to spend our time with quiet people because when we are quiet, we get to think and meditate more, and we share more interesting and thoughtful ideas than when we’re just making white noise.
Talking endlessly is selfish at its core.
Because when we do this, we completely ignore the other’s wishes, we cancel their opinion, we just want our nonsense to be heard. But we don’t want to listen to anyone else.
There’s no need to talk on every occasion, people will still love you if you talk less, and actually, some of us will appreciate you more.
The Benefits of Silence
When we become quiet, when we give up on our need to say anything just because we feel the need to talk, we become active listeners, and this makes us learn new things, especially if we’re surrounded by quieter people, those who won’t talk without having something to say.
We can learn about any matter that they actually know. I’ve gained most of my most meaningful knowledge through the active listening of others, and I’ve only been able to achieve this when I listened instead of talking, and those around me have had something to tell.
Did you know that a thousand years ago, Muslims buried their people by excavating tunnels? I know this because I listened to an archeologist friend the other day.
Being quiet is not only good for improving communication, or just for the sake of basic respect to others, but also generates better ideas, because it frees part of our brain that otherwise would be busy spewing nonsense, and so, it allows it to be used for imagination, to come with solutions to problems or to paint a picture.
In my case, it helps me to write. When I get to be quiet and not have anyone bugging me, it’s when I come with better ideas to write. This happens because in this state I do not feel the need to write just to publish something (I’m guilty of doing this sometimes), and I do not have anyone altering my brainwaves.
Here’s an amazing article by Thomas Oppong about the importance of silence for creativity:
It also helps us to be more present, because we’re not centered in endless chattering, and we’re more focused, we pay more attention to our thoughts, and by that, over time we learn to discern those thoughts that actually matter from those that don’t and are, in fact unhealthy.
Believe it or not, our own thoughts need to be trained too and to do so, we must be able to appreciate them and know when and how to discard them. And this comes only with the meditation that is achieved by staying quiet.
Not only that but also quiet ambiances help our brain and favor the growth of new brain cells because we’re not receiving the avalanche of outside stimulus that we often receive. Picture it as if the brain was another muscle. It needs to rest to avoid injuries.
Those were some many benefits that silence can provide that, as you can see, silence does not equal unproductivity, but a surge in our capacities.
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This article was originally published in Medium .