The Power of Silence

By on August 12, 2014 in Leadership with 1 Comment

Quiet Please Sign

Musicians will tell you it’s not the notes that make the song; it’s the silence between the notes. I think we can find an important parallel in speech.

Case in point: Winston Churchill, perhaps the greatest public speaker of the Twentieth Century, received the biggest break of his political life by saying nothing.

Mired in disgrace and no longer able to lead his country, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain summoned two of his top advisors – the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, and Churchill, Lord of the Admiralty – hoping to recommend one of these men to the King as his successor.

With Halifax the more likely choice – the Foreign Secretary, a member of the House of Lords and a friend of the King’s – Chamberlain simply asked Churchill if he could think of any reason not to recommend Halifax. Churchill remained silent.

Churchill later wrote that this silence must have been so long and uncomfortable that, eventually, Halifax started speaking… and making the case for Churchill!

Halifax went on and on explaining that he would have a hard time handling the position of Prime Minister and prosecuting the war, as a peer, from the House of Lords, and that Churchill would be a better choice. Halifax simply could not handle the silence, and talked himself out of the top post in the nation to counter it. During the entire meeting, Churchill, among the most articulate and eloquent men in the world, never spoke a word. And the next day he became the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to say nothing.

© 2016 Robbie Hyman. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Robbie Hyman.

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About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of www.MoneySavvyTeen.com, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.

Robbie is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies. Visit RobbieHymanCopywriting.com for more information.

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