The phenomenon of silence is not simply the absence of voice. It goes deeper than that. There are two types of silence. Acquiescent silence is a submissive acceptance of circumstances and it’s the result of unawareness. We often wonder why people in authority don’t step in and do something about an injustice. The realization is sometimes people just don’t know. Thus, ignorance keeps them from using voice and the rest of us experience silence.
Quiescent silence is a conscious state in which individuals purposefully withhold concerns out of fear of the consequence. Often the consequences are real, but more often than naught, they are imagined. We feel if we speak up we will be the only opinion-holder, thus risking our status, connections and security. We’d rather suffer silently than risk being ostracized. So we walk around and say or think things like:
- That’s just how this person is
- It’s career-suicide to bring this up
- It won’t do any good
- It’s a sacred cow
- Why bother… It’s not worth the risk
- They have to know this is happening. Everyone else does…
What keeps you silent on important issues? What would it take to break out of your silence?