I’ve always thought of myself as a really good communicator always willing to talk or listen to someone. Always willing to share some thoughts. This morning I saw a clip on Facebook which caught my attention and made me question and tune into some things.
It’s the words Paul Simon said at the beginning of this clip which really caught my attention:
“The biggest hangups is the inability for people to communicate not only on an intellectual level but on an emotional level as well, so we have people unable to touch other people, unable to love other people.” — Paul Simon
Paul is talking about the meaning behind this song which was released in 1965. What really struck me is this is a song written 50 years ago! He could have written this song in 2015 and it would have been equally applicable. People unable to touch people. People unable to love people. After 50 years of The Sounds of Silence I’m left wondering what’s really different.
Consider the lyrics …
[dropshadowbox width=50% align=left]”People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,”[/dropshadowbox]
Picture yourself walking through a mall and bumping into someone you know. You haven’t seen this person in a while. You stop to say “Hi” and ask what’s happening for them. Maybe they’ll ask about you but really you’re just trying to be polite so it’s not overly important. You have a busy day of shopping ahead so as long as it’s quick you’re good. In business and in life it was shallow and unattached in many cases. This way of being makes it difficult to touch and love those around me.
[dropshadowbox width=50% align=left]”People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the dsound of silence.”[/dropshadowbox]
How many songs have I written in my lifetime I have never shared? It might be something bothering me but I’m too worried about causing conflict. It might be an idea I’m passionate about but I don’t want to look stupid. It might be something hurting deep inside me, but I fear being vulnerable or looking weak. How many times did I not dare disturb the sound of silence?
[dropshadowbox width=50% align=left]”Fools,” said I, “You do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.”[/dropshadowbox]
Yes I see how I fooled myself into believing it’s the right thing to do. To write a song and put it away for no-one to ever hear. Yet the more I do this the more the silence grows like a cancer. It never gets better. The silence only went deeper and deeper into my heart and soul. The more I let silence rule me the more the need to suppress my true feelings & self grew like a cancer.
[dropshadowbox width=50% align=left]”And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”[/dropshadowbox]
I had to look up what “tenement halls” are. All I can say is … holy crap that was me! Through the silence I accepted all those years I was being a substandard me. I was not allowing myself to be seen or heard for who I really am. I had abandoned myself as it just seemed easier to accept being this and just blend into the crowd of tenement halls.
How often do we bow and pray to our neon gods? How often do we stay silent in honour of not disturbing or not being vulnerable. How often do we miss the opportunity to really be with someone as silence just seems more comfortable?
Leading for ChangeTM
Learning to break the silence is an important aspect of Leadership. People seem so busy at work trying to do more with less that we’re not taking the time to really hear and be heard. We’re not taking the time to connect with the people we’re with day after day. I see too much silence!
This topic has turned into something far bigger than Leading for Change. This is about how we show up everywhere in our lives. This is a busy time of year with people stressed about finding the perfect gift, preparing the perfect feast, and getting all that work done before the holidays. Life is precious … do you really want to spend it in silence?
My invitation to you
Fast forward to today. I try to slow things down when I’m talking to others regardless of who they are or what I’m doing. I don’t always get it right and yes I still get caught up in my head at times. However, when I do slow it down I am absolutely amazed what I can really hear when I take the time to listen. Listen to what’s behind the words someone is saying. Listen to my intuition and what it’s telling me. What I’ve noticed is how my whole world has shifted where I feel more at peace.
I invite you to do the same. Slow it down. If you ride an elevator at work, strike up a conversation with someone during your ride rather than looking at your smartphone. Goto the local mall and find a bench to sit on. Just listen and when someone sits next to you connect with them. When you’re going through the check-out at the grocery store ask the cashier how their day has been and stop to really hear them. It’s a wonderful world out there full of such beautiful people!
Isn’t it time to break the silence!