Sometimes….Say Nothing

Yesterday was an interesting day. It started off normally enough, I awoke at the usual time, but knew that I was meeting with someone at work half an hour earlier than I typically arrive, so I decided to pen my blog not at home but at work on my own time. However, once at work and after my early morning meeting, I turned to jobs at hand putting off that blog until later in the day.

Well soon it was noon and I had a lunch meeting which was something I had looked forward to all week-long, and it was followed by a Team meeting in the afternoon. Still I thought, there’ll be time when I get home while preparing dinner. Then a headache hit, and it stuck with me from about 1:30 p..m. on. When I got home after the hour ride, I called my wife at work and told her she would find me sprawled out on the couch perhaps asleep as I fought off the pain. The next thing I knew, she was walking in the door, and it was an hour and a half later and I had indeed closed my eyes and slept.

During the evening, things improved but slowly, and my ability to really concentrate and write anything meaningful was low. So I made a decision to not share anything in my job advice blog, rather than write for the sake of keeping up a string of daily blogging. So why share this with you and what relevance does this have to the whole job advice subject?

Well I was thinking to myself, there are a number of times when the best strategy is to lie low, to avoid speaking for the sake of speaking, and to reserve your comments until you are in a frame of mind to actually add something useful to a conversation. In an interview, there too are times when you’ve answered a question sufficiently and your best strategy would be to get comfortable with the silence, without the need for filing the dead space with your words.

I know myself that I’ve used silence as a tool to elicit more from clients in my line of work. If I can refrain from speaking in a conversation, quite often the person I’m engaged with will break first and start speaking first. This is a well-known and oft-used strategy that interviewers use to see how an applicant deals with a stressful situation. And from time-to-time, I’ve caught myself being the first to start filling the dead air with thoughts that are poorly thought out; winging it as it were. Seldom have I actually done well in those situations, as my brain scrambles quickly to think of something semi-intelligent to say. Only once I’ve started talking does it hit me that I’d have done much better to have said nothing at all.

Even outside of an interview, such as in my team meeting yesterday, I contributed to the discussion, but only in areas where I felt assured that what I had to offer was relevant. After the meeting I was speaking with a co-worker, and mentioned that there had been something I half-wanted to say, but after all was glad I had not.

When for example you are experiencing a headache, or on those days when you just know you aren’t functioning at your very best, a strategy for survival in the workplace might be to lie low. This could mean putting off emails until you’ve regained your clarity. It might also mean hanging out in your cubicle instead of making the rounds if that’s your usual routine. And if you have something positive to look forward to coming up in your work or personal life, think on that it will give you reason to get on and get through your day.

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