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Giving Silence…


Time in the car with a teenager is coveted time. A parent’s natural inclination is to fill that space with questions, suggestions and advice and make it a “bonding experience.” But, while driving my son this week I gave into silence. It has made me more aware of our thoughts and the space between our words.

“Giving silence” is a term I dreamed up, because unlike giving somebody the silent treatment, creating a space for other’s ideas and thoughts is a gift. Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once said of his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr., “You could tell him just a few things, and he understood the things you did not say.” I love that.

I often use words to fill a void. Not comfortable with silence or distance I can start to chatter in the hope of connecting, but frequently the chatter prevents real communications because I’m too busy filling space instead of listening for the things there were not said. So simple and yet so hard.

For example, how much closer would I be to my wife, if I observe her body language as opposed to what she says, her actions as opposed to her words, what she means as opposed to her explanation? The truth can often hide in the silence between the words. I market for a living and I value the white space in our messages.

In fact, I come from a long line of communicators. My parents owned a phone company, I am a partner in an email marketing company that sends millions of emails per month, my daughter is studying visual communication, and my wife communicates through art, but I’m scratching my head wondering if I missed something huge here. The obvious difference between communicating and connecting may have passed me by.

Maybe the connecting happens in between the chords, words, emails, text and images. It may happen in the listening, in the observing, in the thinking, in the silence and in the giving. This may sound almost religious, but whoever your god happens to be, most likely she’s silent too. Gods typically don’t speak much. In fact Rumi, a 13th century poet, said that silence is the language of the gods; the rest is just translation.

So where do I start being silent: with my son in the car, with my wife in bed, with my partner on the phone?  Hmmm…maybe I start with myself sitting on the dock of the bay. If I can listen to myself there, then tuning into others will come.

To see more images, follow me on Instagram: @ronen_yaari

  • Ronen Yaari

    Looking forward to hearing about silence!

  • Leslie Storms

    It’s always interesting to me that if you (or we) truly listen in silence, healing takes place. When we hold moments of silence the other person almost runs out of words because they are being heard. It reminds me that we are all vibrations of energy and you can communicate just by your vibration. Like on Instagram you really get a feel for folks and what they represent without ever directly speaking with them…our “vibrations” naturally line up. I enjoyed this topic, thank you for the reminder of giving silence!

    • Ronen Yaari

      Yes. I once took a Landmark course where they had as pair off. We were first instructed to intently listen to our partner and give them undivided attention. Then on the second round, we were told to look distracted, maintain no eye contact and generally pay no attention to them. It was debilitating not being listened to or heard. You can only have a voice if you are being heard.

  • Mark Sisti

    “Giving Silence”…..hmmm…..yes…..hhmmmm….yes, giving….the gift of silence without which one cannot listen, one cannot understand the other (or oneself)….so hard to do, especially with those we care so desperately about. Communication in the service of connecting, a priority which is often lost in our competitive culture, thanks for the reminders…..mindfully expressed my new friend. I hear you.

About Ronen Yaari

I’m no guru and I don’t have hundreds of hours of certifications. All I can claim is that I did not squander the time that I was given so far. I took care of my body from an early age and realized that a fit body was going to be the vehicle of choice to propel me around the planet to find what I was supposed to find. I ran marathons, biked continents, climbed glaciers, walked across states, sailed oceans, explored reefs and floated myself over yoga mats. If the sun is down I’m a sleep and if it’s up I’m outside. My biggest accomplishment by far is creating a family that enjoys each other and puts up with me.