The Rule of Awkward Silence

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17th Jan, 2022

Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos run two of the most valuable companies in the world. From the outside, they seem to exhibit very different personalities. But within their companies, both men are known for a fascinating practice:

They each embrace the rule of ‘Awkward Silence.’

When faced with a challenging question, instead of answering, you pause and think deeply about how you want to answer. This is no short pause; rather, it involves taking several seconds (10, 20, or longer) to think things through before responding.

We live in a world that demands instant gratification.

But there’s a major problem with all of this instantaneous communication: It doesn’t leave time to think. Critical thinking calls for deep and careful consideration of a subject. It requires introspection and retrospection. It involves weighing and analyzing facts, and careful reasoning. And it results in making insightful connections. None of this is possible without time.

But when you embrace the rule of awkward silence, you steal back time.

Time that used to be wasted on nonsense answers.

Time that used to be wasted on telling another person what you think they want to hear, as opposed to what you truly believe.

Embrace the rule of awkward silence, and you will increase your confidence and self-control,

Increase the value of your comments, and

Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

When someone asks you a question that requires thought, do the following:

Pause and think deeply about their question before you respond. Take as much time as you need.

If you’re worried about the other person’s reaction, tell them: “That’s a great question. Please give me a minute to think it through.”

Of course, you might be more uncomfortable doing this with someone in a position of power over you, like your boss or a big client.

So, start by practicing with friends and family. Then, gradually try it out on others and stay blessed forever.