Have you ever noticed how most people in our culture are uncomfortable with silence? We leave our TVs and radios on, even in rooms that are unoccupied, just so that there is some sort of auditory interest. In conversation gaps and lulls have to be filled with something, even meaningless chatter, just so there aren’t any awkward pauses. We just find ourselves uncomfortable in the quiet.
I am one of those who has experienced such discomfort. I am also one of those who is learning to become comfortable with silence. I am learning that it is usually better, when you have nothing of import to say, to say nothing at all. Back to that whole “simple solution”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=180 thing — simplicity in dialogue is usually better than verbosity. Say it simply, say it plain, and when you’re done, say nothing more unless you need to. This is not to say that there is no place for the casual chatter between friends and acquaintances, but it _is_ to say that there should be no pressure to fill every silence with words, at the risk of rendering that sort of dialogue hollow and meaningless.
I am a man of words. I enjoy discussion, I enjoy writing, and as such I feel an almost inherent pressure to spout such words as come to mind. But often such venting is superfluous, and I find that functionality of communication takes precedence over artistry of communication. My job requires descriptions and explanations to be brief, since what matters are the numbers I produce and since too much written out gets skipped and ignored. Phone conversations and emails are straight to the point because getting the job done is what’s important. But even in casual encounters, I am learning to take comfort in silence. There is no need to talk all the time — just being in the presence of friends is reassuring and refreshing. Fellowship can take place even when not a single word is spoken.