Do you ever feel wordless? I had a client recently say she felt like she had a conversation bubble floating over her head like a word cloud. She could not string the elements together to form a complete sentence. Labels, names, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, verbs – all dangling in space waiting for some resemblance of order, narrative or expression. It’s a head-scratcher to have so many thousands of choices available in the spoken language and not be able to find a few to summarize your thoughts, feelings or reactions. It can be an odd sensation.
The current headlines alone can certainly cause a lot of wordlessness:
Before we all resort to cussing it out, I have a suggestion. We may need to express that we feel speechless. From a physical perspective, we are never truly without words. Unless there is a physical condition – the vocal cords still work. We can speak, but the emotion can be too strong, leaving us unable to find the right declaration to fit the context. These moments of vulnerability invite your leadership.
Have you ever been in a meeting and said, “I am without words, and I think we need to all sit in silence for a bit and reflect?”
When was the last time you refrained from problem admiration to admit you did not know how to get past the present obstacle because your emotion was clogging your thinking?
Do you permit yourself to slow the constant chatter of achieveachieveachieveachieve hurryhurryhurry talktalktalktalk complaincomplaincomplain directdirectdirectdirect or answeransweransweranswer?
Leadership is most often expressed in words, but it can also be felt in silence.
There is a time for language and a time to be quiet – good leaders maximize both opportunities and do not let the weird wordless feeling go unexplored. When those moments hit - Let them be. Choose silence and see what emerges. There is an invitation in the space that language cannot fill – we do not always realize we need it, but once there, the body will take some big deep breaths.
Where are you wordless and how do you want to manage that?
Photos by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
My family loves movies! We are nerdy to the point of putting notes on our calendars when a beloved film, seen on the big screen, is coming out on DVD/Blu-ray. The date it arrives in stores, we make a special trip to Target and then watch it soon after from home. We like to own our favorite flicks. We also do not just watch them over and over - we turn on all needed sound systems, and the movie is amplified all over the house.
Amplification is the process of increasing the volume. When something cannot be heard, we plug it into a system that amplifies the sound. We can also amplify the voices of our colleagues.
One of my friends and colleagues Dr. Kerry Mitchell, sent me an article written by Claire Landsbaum about the shine theory – ‘if you don’t shine, I don’t shine.’ It was an article about the female staffers in the Obama administration and what they did to ensure female voices were heard.
Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.
Two simple things resonate from this article!
Who will you amplify in your next meeting?
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker| Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation