I sit there silently. Just listening. At first I pay close attention to noticing every small detail and figuring out what’s happening. I look at the speaker and notice the brand of glasses they’re wearing. I track their eye contact. I evaluate the chain of reasoning to what they’re saying. Eventually, I become disengaged in what’s going on and just let it wash over me. It strikes me that I might be being too quiet.
I decide to start talking. I throw out all my ideas. I start rambling on about interests. I get really involved in what’s happening. Suddenly, I become painstakingly aware that I’m getting a little bit too excited, and I’m being just a little bit too loud. Talking is fine, but people can go on and on and on. That’s how I’m being.
It’s a funny little balancing act. It’s not helpful that how much you talk, how you talk, and what you talk about has to change based upon the situation. A courtroom. A family gathering. A workplace. The way you talk in each setting has to be quite different. I don’t feel like I always get the balance right.
Confidence is a big deal. Even being confident in silence. Silence isn’t the enemy. I’ve found that being comfortable in silence is an important thing, because sometimes it is just not the time to talk. Maybe it’s the time to listen and observe. There are also important times where you will need to be silent to gather your thoughts before you speak. Similarly, it’s sometimes important to be confident in speaking up.
What precisely is the dividing line between when to be loud and when to be quiet? I think confidence really is the key. Confidence in the fact that you have correctly assessed the appropriate thing for you to do in this situation. Is there a lecture on quantum mechanics you know nothing about? Be quiet and observe. Is it the time to ask questions? Ask them confidently.