Picture this. An interesting group with some subordinates, a couple of executives and leaders, an interesting discussion on cars, speeds, torques, power etc. and suddenly one from the group who had been quite all through out speaks out – “The Torque of the all Honda cars are amazing. The moment you push the brake, the car stops”.
There is silence and then there is laughter, albeit a silent one. None can hear anyone laugh, but everybody knew that, everyone except the anchor was laughing.
Let me ask you a couple of questions.
Is it necessary that you talk and contribute in every discussion?
Is remaining silent considered equal to ignorance?
Hold your answers. You can answer them towards the end of this post.
My School taught me to be Silent
I remember learning in the 5th grade, a nice little proverb that said,
Speech is Silver while Silence is Golden
It was good enough to make anyone understand the importance of remaining silent. But as you move up the chain, you start to feel that contributing to every discussion is a must, if you are to be seen as a team player. Or, so you are made to feel.. thanks to some self-authored leadership fundas.
It was not until about 2 years that I had started working, I got to learn an advanced version of the proverbs that I learnt at school,
He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
That actually made sense. A lot of it. And it was then that I started to notice something. A lot of people around, whose contributions in discussions where a “BOSS” was involved did not go beyond,
“You’re right sir”,
“You have amazing knowledge about cars, Sir”,
“You just changed my views, Sir”…. etc.
And I realized that leadership fundas are better than all the proverbs that we learnt. In fact, you need to contribute when you are in a group.. but with the only difference that contribution necessarily need not be about the subject. It can just be an acknowledgement of the fact that the one who is holding the highest position and is actively participating in the discussion, is the absolute best and is who is right.
Is Silence Really Golden?
Silence is an art. But this is an art that is not taught at any of the schools. They teach you to debate and get involved in discussions and leave you alone with a closing proverb – “Silence is Golden“, and expect you to understand the inherent meaning.
Indeed silence is an art and it is an art that nobody can teach you. Knowing when to remain silent and when to contribute, requires careful thought.
A simple guideline to follow in order to decide if the discussion is worth contributing to, involves the below –
- Is your contribution really important in the discussion?
- Do you know enough about the subject, that you can present a different view to what is being discussed?
- Is a different view required?
If you answered any of the questions in a “NO”, then you better stay silent.
I still remember something that one of my elder cousins told me as a kid.
Keep a tight fist always, when you are in a group. People around will think that you have something valuable in your hand, that you are holding tight and hence give you high regards. The day you open it in front of the crowd and they realize that it is empty, you have lost your value.
Once again, that was another way of telling me, “Silence is Golden“.
If you have little to no knowledge about a subject that is being discussed, better to remain silent. Little knowledge is even more dangerous that no knowledge. By not commenting or, contributing you will only be considered as a person with wisdom. But if you contribute and do that like the anchor that I spoke about a the beginning of this article, then you might not need another attempt to establish your foolishness.
How you determine if you should contribute or, remain silent is entirely upto you. It is a decision that you need to take depending upon the situation.
The guidelines that we spoke about in this post can be something you might want to consider when you decide on your course of action, but is that all you need to keep in mind is again something you will have decide based on the situation you are in.