The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Constructive silence

A while ago, I integrated reflection time in a team-coaching. I asked the participants to share their associations and experiences that were appearing to them in the moment. To avoid any distraction from that sharing my indication was, that no one was allowed to discuss what had been said. It was a time of sharing, experiencing, and listening.

It was a powerful experience for the group. They slowed down and heard silence. A silence that helped them see how fast their thoughts were running and how difficult it could be for them to sit with them. But also a silence that moved them into a different rhythm.

They could use it to integrate what they had just heard.

Western culture has shaped itself to reduce silence to the smallest possible time gaps. Just enough to sense that one can step into the conversation without interrupting or at a moment when the other will not continue anymore. The Asian culture can take a very different approach. During conversations, participants will wait until there is enough silence to allow the group to think. And it’s only then that they will step in and contribute. They allow the group to think as a group.

Once the group learns to slow down, silence becomes bearable and then constructive.


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