by Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC
Can you hear it?
You might be surprised to learn what can be discovered in silence. In the kind of silence that is present when a coach senses that the most useful thing to say is…….nothing.
The following question and answer addresses two different kinds of silence. One is the quiet that presents itself in the old proverb, "Will my words improve upon the silence?"
The other addresses the verbal mannerisms that often show up in conversation as more habitual than conscious. Here’s a look at how coaches can offer more when they say less.
Q. What’s so great about silence? Isn’t it awkward to let a client sit there wondering what’s going on?
A. There certainly is such a thing as awkward silence and I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. However, silence in coaching is not designed to leave someone hanging, or to use because you’re unsure where to take the conversation (which can indeed feel awkward for both the coach and client!). In the latter situation, in fact, full disclosure would be an appropriate response, as in, "I’m not sure where you’d like to go with this". Learning to become comfortable with a purposeful use of silence will provide more opportunity for growth than you might imagine.
So what’s so great about silence? The simple answer is that there is great processing that can happen when the noise around us ceases. In the elegant words of Byron Katie, "When I became quiet, they could hear themselves." In those words is an understanding that the voice of one’s own heart and mind holds the key to personal greatness. The client’s inner guidance and wisdom comes forth in profound ways when there is an environment that encourages this guidance. This also reminds us that, although coaches can and do offer their wisdom and knowledge, the knowing that comes from the client is what creates the shifts and sustainability that true transformation requires.
And now for the more complex answer about what's so great about silence.
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Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC, is the Lead Certifier and a certifying examiner at the IAC, as well as Past-President. She is Dean of Students and a Master Instructor at the School of Coaching Mastery. Natalie is founder of Ageless-Sages.com Publishing (www.ageless-sages.com), and creator of the literary genre, Picture Books for Elders™.
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