The value of silence in coaching

In our modern society, verbal communication has clearly prevailed over the dimension of listening to oneself and others, and vital space for other means of communication has been taken away from our lives.
Sensory communication in fact provides a wide range of means available to the individual in order to  communicate with others: a communication made up of looks, smells, touches, gestures.

The relational nature of human beings is realized through the interaction between them and the reality that surrounds then, and this is possible thanks to the human sensory dimension.
There is another dimension of communication that differs from the above: the dimension of silence.

Silence is a form of non-verbal communication, which differs from the others because apparently nothing seems to happen at a superficial level, but under the surface our most natural and genuine sensitivity is sharpened through the silence dimension. Silence is not, as it might seem, the absence of communication, it is not opposite to word, but it is the place where the word radiate from, a blank sheet of paper where we can write our words. There is a close two-ways relationship between word and silence, where one is fundamental to the existence of the other. There is no word without silence, silence precedes and follows words, and we would not identify silence if it were a continuum.

Silence becomes the place for the integration of words, it shows the individual the importance of paying attention to the words, to their meaning in the present moment. With silence, us human beings show our intrinsically social nature to the maximum degree, by paying our attention to the words of other human beings, we then manage to deeply connect with them. Through silence, as individuals we are also able to listen to ourselves, we emphasize our moods, our emotions, our sensations and reflections, and we therefore increasing our own degree of self-awareness.

Accordingly to what I just shared until now, professional coaching embraces and use silence as an effective tool to support clients in achieving their desired results. Professional Coaches work in partnership with their clients acting from the belief that they are perfect as they are and that their answers are the right ones, always.  The possibility that the Client is silent or does not answer the question does not necessarily imply a lack of something, but more often it is a manifestation of the transformative reflection that is taking place within the client, a means through which clients are developing a new form of self-awareness about themselves or about the reality around them.

Professional Coaches also use silence as a powerful tool to empathize with their clients and with their emotional world at a deeper level, by allowing the needed space to let important information to emerge from the clients’ awareness. Silence in Coaching is an essential element because it allows both the coach and the client to dig into the soul, into the deepest part of individuals, as a tool to reveal hidden truths.

John Cage, an innovator musician of the twentieth century, tried to understand the nature and meaning of silence and what he found out about silence is very powerful.
Here is an excerpt from his interview on this subject:
“After I went to Boston, I went to an anechoic chamber at Harvard University. Everyone who knows me knows this story. I repeat it over and over. However, in that silent room I heard two sounds, a high one and a low one. So I asked the technician why, if the room was so soundproof, I had heard two sounds. ‘Describe them to me,’ he said. I did it. He replied: ‘The high sound was your nervous system in operation, the low sound your blood circulation’ “.
Cage concluded: “Well, there is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening ”.

It is that “something” that makes all the difference in the world.

________________________________

 

(Italian version of the article)

 

Nella società moderna la comunicazione verbale ha preso il netto sopravvento sulla dimensione dell’ascolto di sé e degli altri, togliendo spazio vitale ad altri mezzi comunicativi di cui l’essere umano dispone, potenti almeno quanto le parole.
La comunicazione sensoriale infatti fornisce un’ampia gamma di mezzi a disposizione dell’individuo per poter comunicare con gli altri: una comunicazione fatta di sguardi, odori, tocchi, gesti.
La natura relazionale dell’uomo si realizza attraverso l’interazione tra egli e la realtà che lo circonda, proprio grazie alla propria dimensione sensoriale.

Esiste poi un’altra dimensione della comunicazione che si differenzia da quelli appena discussi per l’orientamento che pone nei confronti dell’interlocutore, sia esso un’altra persona oppure se stessi: la dimensione del silenzio.
Il silenzio è una forma di comunicazione non verbale, che si differenzia dalle altre poiché apparentemente sembra non avvenire nulla e ad un livello superficiale questo è verificabile, ma sotto la superficie si acuiscono le nostre sensibilità più naturali  e genuine.

Il silenzio non è, come potrebbe sembrare, assenza di comunicazione oppure opposto alla parola, ma è il luogo ove la parola si irradia, un foglio di carta bianca in cui possiamo scriverla.
Esiste una stretta relazione biunivoca tra parola e silenzio, dove l’una è fondamentale all’esistenza dell’altro. Non esiste parola senza silenzio che la preceda e la segua, non identificheremmo il silenzio se esso fosse continuo.

Il silenzio diventa il luogo dell’interiorizzazione della parola, mostra all’individuo l’importanza di porre attenzione sulla parola, sul suo significato in quel preciso momento.
Con il silenzio l’uomo mostra al massimo grado la sua natura intrinsecamente sociale, prestando maggiore attenzione alla parola dell’altro, riuscendo ad incontrarlo in modo efficace.

Attraverso il silenzio ogni individuo è in grado inoltre di ascoltare se stesso, dando risalto agli stati d’animo, alle emozioni, alle sensazioni  e alla riflessione, aumentando il proprio grado di autoconsapevolezza.

E’ in questa senso che il Coaching professionale incontra il silenzio e lo sposa come strumento efficace per supportare i clienti a raggiungere i risultati desiderati.

Il Coach infatti lavora in partnership con i propri clienti partendo dalla convinzione che essi siano perfetti così come sono ed in ogni modo essi rispondano, o non rispondano, alle domande che egli pone. La possibilità che il Cliente stia in silenzio o non dia risposta alla domanda non implica necessariamente una mancanza, ma più spesso è una manifestazione della riflessione trasformativa che sta avvenendo dentro il Cliente, un mezzo attraverso cui esso sta contattando una forma nuova di consapevolezza di sé e della realtà che lo circonda.

Il Coach stesso permette il proprio silenzio come potente strumento per entrare in empatia con il proprio cliente e con il suo universo emotivo ad un livello superiore, cercando di cogliere, nel tempo che si concede, ogni sfumatura.

Il silenzio nel Coaching è un elemento essenziale perché esso scava nell’anima, nella parte più profonda degli individui. Il silenzio è rivelatore di verità nascoste e va goduto per quello che ci dà, ma anche e soprattutto per quello che ci permette di sottrarre e, quindi, per come ci permette di alleggerire le nostre vite.

John Cage, innovatore musicista del novecento, provò a comprendere la natura ed il significato del silenzio ed è molto eloquente quanto ebbe a dire su di esso. Riporto qui di seguito uno stralcio della sua intervista:

Dopo essere andato a Boston mi recai in una camera anecoica dell’università di Harvard. Tutti quelli che mi conoscono sanno questa storia. La ripeto continuamente. Comunque, in quella stanza silenziosa udii due suoni, uno alto e uno basso. Così domandai al tecnico di servizio perché, se la stanza era tanto a prova di suono, avevo udito due suoni. ‘Me li descriva’, disse. Io lo feci. Egli rispose: ‘Il suono alto era il suo sistema nervoso in funzione, quello basso il suo sangue in circolazione’”. Cage così concluse: “Dunque, non esiste una cosa chiamata silenzio. Accade sempre qualcosa”.

E’ quel “qualcosa” a fare tutta la differenza del mondo.

 

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