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Silence episode 2 - four tactics to use silence in training, in meetings, in project mode...

In a previous article, we discussed the 5 great virtues of silence. Did it help you to make silence a positive thing, to make it an ally? We hope so. Today, let's talk about tactics to use silence in any communication and training situation.

Communicating silently

Doing nothing, saying nothing, can be highly effective. How do you use silence wisely? We sharefour tactics with you. In what situations should you apply them? You will find them useful in interpersonal communication, training, meeting facilitation or public speaking.

1. A time for listening

Real listening is a gift. In this listening, we are present, gifting our total presence to the other. Thus, we perceive not only his or her words, but also what is implicit, the body attitudes, the tone... This is, ideally, the posture of the trainer...

How to do it? First of all, a true intention of presence is necessary. I center myself on the other person, I forget myself, I forget what I want to say. I am welcoming. I am in the joy of the encounter, of welcoming the expression and the presence of the other.

And then? I am leaving space. I resist the temptation to say "oh yes, me too..." or "you should have...". I am breathing. I keep quiet with a caring quality of silence. I can use small signs to encourage speech, to mark my listening. This listening also requires patience: are you silent? I respect your silence, your inner breathing time. I do not take advantage of a breath of my interlocutor to interfere, to fill the silence.

Try it, you will see the joy that this listening brings to both sides...

2. A time to smile and look

We can encourage with words. We can also use non-verbal cues that have the advantage of being quite discreet. They do not disturb the action or the reflection of the learners of our training. They are also signs of sobriety: doing less is often doing better. Why saturate the sound space? By taking up less space, I leave more space for the other person...

Here are five useful signs: a look, a smile, a wink, a thumbs up, a nod. There is no need to multiply or repeat them to be effective. Again, use them sparingly...

3. Reframing time

Ah, the chatter in training... Those distractions in meetings, with participants absorbed in their PCs or cell phones! Of course, we can reframe with words. Now, how can we make it more sober? With silence.

Of course, I will have taken care to establish a contract with the participants. For example, cell phones and PCs will be closed outside the times when we need them for the training.

Now, "live", I observe. When a doctor makes a diagnosis, he observes the symptoms to identify the causes, the disease or the dysfunction. Like him, I am attentive to the state of the group. I "take its temperature". For example: the learners have been chatting for 5 minutes, I can no longer capture their attention. It's 11 o'clock in the morning and we haven't had a break in two hours: I've kindly gone from the symptom to the cause. "Let's take a break!"

What if it's not time yet to take a break? A little reframing is in order. Quite simply, by stopping talking. Only the talkers will be left, and they will get the attention of the rest of the group. Under the gaze of the group, and under our gaze, they will quickly shut up...

4. No time for verbal tags!

"So, then, uh...". These "verbal tags", when repeated, pollute our communication. Some learners have fun counting the verbal tags of trainers...

We are all susceptible to verbal tags and have our "favorites". In public speaking training, in training for trainers, we easily identify each person's verbal tags.

What's next? The expression "light chases the shadow" helps us. In plain English (!) it means that it is not by focusing on the negative that we eliminate it, but rather by making the positive exist. So let's turn on the light against verbal tags. What is it? Simply silence. If I'm searching for my words, I close my mouth and am silent. The "uh..." will eliminate itself. Often tested in public speaking training, in training of trainers, we can guarantee the effectiveness of this technique.

You now know four tactics for communicating using silence. And the effectiveness of our interventions, both in engineering and in facilitation, is based among others on the use of silence. Of course, there are many other techniques and rules for successful training.

To practice these tactics, to learn more about how to make your trainings more engaging, leave us a message. Our experts will be happy to discuss your issues and projects with you.

Are you fishing for ideas to boost your trainings and make them more effective? Contact us!

Claire Fromageot

Founder & CEO

Luceole, a professional effectiveness training organisation, trains your employees on an inter-company basis and carries out your tailor-made training projects.


Luceole expert en ingénierie pédagogique et formation
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