“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
So, lately i’ve been exploring the world of Telltale Games! If you’re not familiar they make “graphic adventure games” with a heavy emphasis on the story. They release the games in episodes usually over the course of 6 months. What you do in one “chapter” influences the events of the following chapter. Kind of like the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books from the 80’s!
I didn’t realize it right away but I felt something I hadn’t really felt since I played “Full Throttle” back in the 90’s. When I started researching Telltale Games it turned out that the people behind it were former LucasArts employees. LucasArts is the George Lucas’ (Yes, THAT guy!) game company. The same company that developed “Full Throttle”. So it was great that these guys are keeping the same tradition going!
Where was I going with this? Silence!
Here comes the caveat. This method works fine when it comes to figuring things out, what it doesn’t do is to actually fix the problems. For that you need cold hard action! If we see an injustice carried out towards other people or don’t adress an issue then our silence isn’t being put towards anything productive. Remember that thoughts mean nothing without action.
So while waiting for the realease of “Tales From The Borderlands” I decided to warm up to the style by playing their other game “The Wolf Among Us”. It’s based on a comic book series called “Fables” which is, well, not very much rainbows and unicorns. While playing it I saw a message that read “Silence is a valid option”. Hence today’s title!
I smiled thinking back to the choices i’d made up until that point and thought that maybe it’d been better to just STFU once in a while and let the situation play itself out.
It also got me thinking about how seldom we actually take a minute to be silent and reflect on what’s just been said. We’re really quick on the trigger since we think that we need to have the answer readily available at all times. Otherwise we run the risk of looking stupid!
The truth is that it’s actually OK to take a minute and just mull it over. I can recall one specific time when I just stood in front of my client for what seemed like an eternity. I couldn’t really find the answer to her question right off the top of my head so I had to take a minute. It was actually about 30 seconds.
If you think that 30 seconds isn’t that long, have a friend ask you a question and then wait 30 seconds to reply. Then ask them a question and wait 30 seconds for the answer. It can be agonizing! Also, great for exercising patience and to let yourself have time to think things through.
As she was about to leave I felt bad and said that I was sorry that I wasn’t prepared with a good answer to her question. She turned around and said: “Hey, it was worth the wait. Most people don’t even take the time to really think about what they’re talking about. They just spit out whatever comes to mind. Thank you!”. That really warmed my heart. As a bonus it got my inner critic to shut the hell up!
This method might work wonders for your creativity too. Remember that creativity takes time! The longer you’re able to let your mind ponder the problem, the more creative the solution will be!