Education & Career Trends: Why Silence is Such a Powerful Tool

5 min read

Edition: September 24th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

We have been conditioned to react to various issues and express our opinions, but sometimes, silence is the best answer. (Image credit:

Excerpts from article by Tim Denning, published on

The power of silence is not often taught. Social media teaches us to react to every little thing. To give a like or a comment on social media appeals to your dopamine-driven brain, according to research. What if you could simply avoid problems through the tool of silence?

Ego tempts you to break silence

The key is realising that the ego is not you. It’s something that the mind has constructed, starting in childhood, to help defend ourselves from the big bad world.

David Gerken, Mindfulness teacher

The ego tells us to react. Something has entered our human radar and we feel compelled to respond. Why? It feels good to defend yourself or break the silence. Plus you can get a lot of attention when you do — and we all love attention, don’t we?

The way to break the temptation of your ego is to delay the reaction. Tell yourself “it’s okay to react, just do it later.” The gap of time punctuated by silence allows you to gain perspective. With perspective you realise silence is a better strategy to avoid trouble.

Silence before answering questions

When I (Author, Tim Denning) worked in the corporate world, there’d often be times where I’d get hauled into a meeting and ambushed with questions from my corporate hostage negotiator types. For many years I fell into their trap.

They’d ask a hard question and I’d simply answer without thinking.

Then I learned a new technique. After they’d ask a daring question I’d simply sit in silence and think about my answer. It broke their pattern. Then after enough silence had passed, often, I’d say “that’s a great question, you know, I need time to give you an appropriate answer.”

Don’t feel compelled to answer questions. If you intend to answer them, take your time. Your first thought is often your worst one. It can get you into trouble.

Leaving your job? Quit in silence

I recently quit my job a few months ago. Everybody told me to go out with a bang. I decided not to. There was no advantage to do the wrong thing by people who did the wrong thing by me. It solves nothing — except it gives the ego a nice gift.

So, I quit in silence. I sent a quiet email to my boss and my boss’s boss. I thanked them for having me. I told them my plan to work on my own thing. I had coffee with them before I finished up. Nowhere did I tell them how they should run their business, or who they should promote or demote.

Next time you quit something, do it in silence, without all the handshakes and cries for attention. If you do return to what you quit one day, people will quietly say to others “oh, I’m so glad they’re back, I’ve missed them.”

Silent content creation

If you are a content creator, like I am, there are plenty of temptations to get stuck in the noise. Writers like Zulie Rane, Amardeep, and Michael Thompson often publish without getting lost in the comments section. It’s not that they don’t care about the reader. It’s that they want to create in silence sometimes.

I feel like that too. A nasty comment can easily trigger you on a bad day. There’s no approval button required to comment on Twitter as an example.

What keeps me sane is this: forget about being right or wrong. Make people think deeply. That’s how you avoid a lot of trouble on social media.

Have a warm shower in silence

Take your most troublesome problems to a warm shower and think about them in silence. You’ll find that solutions enter your mind without a lot of effort. Why? Because you’re relaxed, according to a recent study.

Silence and relaxation help enable your brain to be free and tap into your creativity. Creativity prevents a lot of trouble.

Don’t brag, live a quiet life

When I quit my old job, I told no one. When I started making money, I told no one. When I started hitting the gym, I told no one. I tell no one anything. Outside opinions will throw off your energy.

Aaron Will

This quote demonstrates the trouble with opinions. Opinions alter your trajectory in life and can make you go against your plan. This happens because we often talk way too much about our achievements. Aaron suggests: “Have more than you show and speak less than you know.”

Trouble can find you when you brag too much. People love to tear down anyone who has been successful, because it helps distract them from their own shortcomings.

Do this: Talk less about your results so you can reinvest the time into progress.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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