Silence. It’s certainly not the first thing that pops into mind when you think of sales. However, I’ve got laryngitis this week and have to largely shut up, so the topic is on my mind.
My forced quietude, while frustrating, has had a positive effect on me personally and, strangely, a salutary outcome on my limited sales interactions. I find myself very focused on being succinct and making my words count. Also, I find myself sharply concentrated on listening. It’s quite centering. When I do speak I am to the point and responsive to the particularity of my clients and associates. I simply don’t have the voice for bullshit.
I admit to occasional prolixity. It’s hard for me not to throw in the whole kitchen sink when I’m talking about my wonderful company Corporate Rain International. I love my company. I’m passionate about it. Yet my health coerced stillness reminds me that silence is a necessary and efficacious value in sales, as in life.
Quite aside from my laryngitis this week, I’ve always found a judicious use of planned silence a help with everything. There are two things I personally try to do each week to create moments of stillness. Simple, but helpful to me. One is I go to church. That one hour of quiet thought and physical non-activity, sans cell phones, children, chatter, etc., is clarifying and revivifying (quite aside from deeper issues of truth and faith). Two is I try to take a half day every week to go to the movies by myself, where I can be alone in the anonymous dark. I try to pick undemanding “B” movies (think American Pie, Jennifer Aniston, Police Academy VI, etc). Sometimes I go right to sleep, but frequently new thoughts come when I let go with no agenda. (Of course, if you’re a better man than me, a formal discipline of meditation, yoga and prayer is lots better.)
Maybe that’s enough for today. But here’s an interesting thought about silence from the avant guard composer John Cage. In his 1961 book “Silence” he says, “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”