Silence has gotten a bad rep, with many linking it to negativity and even punishment (ever heard of the silent treatment?).
The good news is that studies reveal that silence can be a handy tool when used in the proper context and can significantly help to improve your interpersonal relationships.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the advantages silence can bring to the table.
1) It helps you to control emotional responses
We’ve all been there. Saying something off-the-cuff and shooting from the hip in the heat of the moment. Perhaps you’ve said something that damaged a relationship or threw some lowkey shade.
When you feel compelled to utter something destructive, take a few breaths and remind yourself of the possible consequences which may follow. Silence can be genuinely golden in these moments as it allows you to avoid any further arguments and can de-escalate tense situations.
In situations where you’re unsure about your feelings, the best possible response is to remain quiet until you’ve worked out how you’re feeling. Think about what would happen if you revealed fake or exaggerated feelings during a heated moment – this might cause misunderstandings and make things worse.
As the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Being quiet will help you avoid saying things you’ll regret, and quiet will help you avoid saying something you’ll likely regret.
2) Hone your powers of introspect
The more time you spend with yourself, thinking and introspecting – pinpointing the reasons for any emotional issues you might be experiencing becomes a lot easier.
You’re able to review your day and think about what happened and what caused you distress.
All you need to do is ask yourself some questions. First, ask yourself questions about yourself. Write them down, and then answer your questions.
Ask yourself about your past, present, and future, and answer the questions insightfully and positively that motivate you.
Introspect makes it easier to share these issues with your partner and help them understand what you’re going through. Remember, you can’t love and understand somebody if you don’t love and understand yourself. The same goes for our emotions. You cannot expect somebody else to understand if you haven’t figured things out for yourself.
3) Improved emotional intelligence and nonverbal communication skills
But I’m in a relationship; shouldn’t we be communicating 24/7? Absolutely not! Being with some doesn’t mean you need to be communicating with them verbally all the time. You’re going to find yourself in moments that don’t require words.
Sometimes, we’re just busy or tired or simply don’t feel like talking, and that’s completely OK. However, it’s important to note that a healthy relationship will have its fair share of comfortable silences.
Take away the spoken word, and automatically, you’re developing and improving nonverbal communication between the two of you. Things like eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures are highlighted and allow you to “read” your partner without saying a word.
You’ll get to pick up on the nuances that words often aren’t able to convey.
This can always be a great way to strengthen your relationship. Think of it as an “inside joke” between you and your partner. When you learn how to read each other’s non-verbal cues, this can be an incredibly healthy and effective form of silent communication.
4) Better decision-making skills
The decisions we make are either long-term or short-term. Long-term decisions usually follow a logical process and are well throughout. However, these long-term decisions often require that we spend more time thinking about them and the effects they will ultimately have.
We’re constantly making short-term decisions that address temporary circumstances or an immediate problem during our day on the opposite end.
Instantaneous decision-making shouldn’t happen when facing a complex problem because you’re likely to make the wrong choice. Instead, apply your mind and take some quiet time to think helps sort through your decision-making process, letting you make the right choices.
5) Silence teaches us how to listen and not just hear
When you are intently listening to someone, you create an opportunity for them to open up to you and feel comfortable. Great listeners know how this works and anybody can learn how to do it.
When you’re actively listening to someone and are not trying to chime into the convo every two seconds, you’re displaying a sense of openness through nonverbal means.
In addition, you’re showing respect in allowing others to speak without interruption, which is a great way to build trust within a relationship.
6) Being entirely present for others
Silence can be a powerful way to engage with your partner, especially during trying times. It helps communicate acceptance of the other person at a given moment, especially when they’re exuding solid feelings like sadness, anger, or fear.
You’re giving the other person your full attention. When paired with suitable eye contact and gestures like leaning forward, smiling, nodding, frowning, and other facial expressions, it lets the other person know you get what they’re saying.
In a relationship, being quiet gives your partner the time and space they need to talk about whatever is troubling them.
When decisions need to be made, problems need solving, or simply just for the sake of expressing themselves, being quiet can sometimes be the best answer to allow the other to reflect, talk and make decisions minus any unnecessary pressure.
Remaining silent can be just as powerful as words. Often a hug will mean a lot more and be more comforting than simply saying “my deepest condolences”.
7) Improved negotiation skills
The ability to negotiate in any relationship is essential. But, unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and roses, and you’ll often find yourself at loggerheads, needing to negotiate certain things.
Silence imparts a sense of mystery and power, showing others that you’re not going to back down and are not settling. But, on the other hand, silence is also known to make people uncomfortable, and negotiating is a terrific way to bring about your wants and needs without uttering a word.
Say your piece, then stay quiet, and let the other person come to their conclusions. First, being silent shows that you are confident in what you said, and two, you show that you respect the other person enough to hear what they have to say.
8) Improved creativity
How can you expect to improve anything when you’re constantly being distracted by everything going on. Message notifications, mobile phones, social media, and televisions fill our days and stunt our creative ability because we’re overstimulated.
Too much noise and stimulation can take a heavy toll and cause anxiety, tension, irritability, and more often than not, cause us to snap at the ones we love.
Noise also obstructs our creative juices from flowing, so practice silence daily if you’re looking to replenish your cognitive resources.
It can take the form of silent meditation, a walk around the park or simply choosing a time of the day to be quiet and reflect. It’s like a mini-vacation for your brain. As a result, you’ll benefit from an improved sense of overall creativity will be more receptive and more enthusiastic about life in general.
Remember, some of the best inventions happen in solitude (think Beethoven, Van Gogh, and Albert Einstein).
9) Improved awareness
How do you know if you’re doing the right thing and if you and your significant other are headed in the right direction?
When you are fully aware of what is going on around you, the ability to make conscious adjustments to your life is way more manageable; and it all starts by practicing regular silence to get there.
You learn to be aware of your thoughts and emotions in silence, allowing yourself to focus more. When we’ve become used to the quiet, it gets easier to direct our mind to whatever we want or need to focus on at the time.
10) Improves patience and resilience
Many of us have a short fuse, and it’s not a wonder, given that we live in a fast-paced and interconnected world.
Cutting out the noise cultivates peacefulness and calm and when done regularly will help you become more tolerant and less impatient.
When you can come home and “be” with your significant other without having to make unnecessary banter, you’re strengthening your bond and are growing together.
Know to savor silent moments; you’ll have more patience in daily hassles like quarrels with your partner and long lines at the store.
If you want to improve your resilience in relationships, check out the video below where Justin Brown explains three key factors to successful relationships.
11) Improves overall mental health and physical health
You can’t fight a war on an empty stomach, and you cannot expect to have healthy and well-balanced relationships if you’re not physically and mentally well.
Practicing silence is scientifically proven to improve both your overall mental and physical health by:
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Boosting your immune system
- Improved brain chemistry, which helps to produce new cells
- Decreased stress due to lower blood cortisol and adrenaline levels.
It’s also great for sleep!
Practicing silence during the day will also enhance sleep and lessen insomnia. We’ve all heard about winding down before bed, yet few of us do it.
Silence is the most relaxing thing we can do for ourselves and – for our partners. Overall improved healthy and great sleep means you’ll be able to face whatever may come.
What does healthy silence look like in a good relationship?
Silence provides opportunities for self-reflection and daydreaming, which stimulates and activates multiple areas of our brain.
It enables us to turn down the inner noise and increases awareness of what matters most. And it cultivates mindfulness — recognition, and appreciation of the present moment.
We are incredibly uncomfortable with silence in the company of others. We feel a sense of disconnect or brokenness. Yet, as in verbal exchange, communication is valued, encouraged, and hailed as the key to a good partnership.
But there are times when silence, the absence of talking, can be a vital sign of a strong relationship.
If you’re still unsure about what precisely healthy silence looks like, here are some examples of what healthy silence should look and feel like.
- You enjoy being together and don’t feel pressured to make unnecessary conversation.
- You most likely feel calmer or less stressed just by the presence of your mate.
- Your emotions are balanced and controlled.
- You feel comfortable with yourself, loved, and accepted by your partner.
- You are not troubled about what is wrong in the relationship should you experience moments of silence.
- You are more intuitive and open to the feelings of your partner during moments of silence.
- It’s not forced or fake. You’re not biting your tongue or waiting anxiously for some magical sensation to overtake you.
At the end of the day
Silence can either be positive or negative in our communications. When it’s negative (aka the silent treatment) and used incorrectly, it has the potential to devastate a relationship. On the other hand, when a partner needs verbal validation or encouragement, silence is not the best option, which is why context is vital.
Healthy silence can show vulnerability and comfort within a relationship and is necessary for solid relationships to last. Everyone may need a break from verbal communication at times, just being content in each other’s space.
Quiet time provides the keys to developing close ties and empathy for others, especially our most important relationship, our significant other. Welcome those quiet times with your partner. Invite them in if necessary.
Acknowledge the comfort and acceptance of being in each other’s company.
Don’t force it or fear it.