Want to Get Ahead? Take 5. Learn to Be Quiet.

Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? When we want an opportunity or a raise, we need to ask for it. If we’re being mistreated, we need to speak out. When we see wrong being done, we need call attention to it. 

So how can being quiet help us get ahead? Crack this case and reap the benefits! 

Size up the situation 

The workplace is a din of noise. Everyone’s tuned into to multiple channels at the same time: 

  • Engaging in live conversation
  • Texting and taking cell phone calls
  • Checking email on mobile devices 

We believe that staying “in the know” is essential to success, so we’ve become gourmands of information in a buffet without limits.

When everyone around you is gobbling up and spitting out the details, tidbits, and finds, you’ve now given yourself a career edge. 

Ideas and innovation move careers. S/he, who can put the pieces together to solve problems and create something unique, earns the reward. 

Quiet is your ally. 

You don’t miss things when your mind is quiet, you discover them. 

Quiet is a lot of things, particularly the absence of noise, turmoil, agitation, and trouble. What we need for our careers is internal quiet. 

When everyone else keeps their thinking fragmented, swatting at bits and pieces of disjointed communication, you need to use quiet to intensify your focus.  Zone into your internal strategist and set out to make your mark. 

Putting quiet to work 

Quiet is a powerful tool when you use it effectively, so: 

  1. Listen and ask—We learn from what we hear, so it’s up to us to be quiet and listen to what others have to say. That’s where the insights are. The better you listen and the more you ask, the more you learn. When we’re quiet, others will talk.
  2. Listen to yourself—We spend an amazing amount of time talking to ourselves instead of staying quiet within. It’s better to listen to our inner voice than to think over it. When we quiet our minds, give our subconscious a chance to reveal its insights, it will deliver powerful aha moments. Skeptical? Just try it.
  3. Remove distractions—Learn to be alone with yourself. Distractions get in the way of your internal listening. If you’re scoffing at this, think of the last time you sat alone with no one around and nothing to distract you. If you can’t remember that’s a message to you. If you do remember and the experience was uncomfortable, you need to figure out why.
  4. Stop forcing thoughts—Self-imposed pressure to come up with new ideas and solutions often becomes internal noise that blocks the quiet you need. If you have to come up with an idea, pronto, do something unrelated to your job: go work out, read a novel, take a walk, or take a shower where many good ideas are revealed!
  5. Pick up on vibes—Vibes pierce the quiet. It’s what happens in the spaces between the noise. We get vibes about people, risk, and opportunity. Even when we’re in the thick of things, a quiet mind gathers up those vibes and triggers our next move. When we’re distracted, we miss those vibes or misread them, so it’s in our best interest to stay tuned in. 

Quiet practice 

We’ve been conditioned to run a fast pace. We’ve come to believe that the faster we run the more success we’ll have. Just look at the movers and shakers where you work. Some may have “arrived” by running over people, but most had their wits about them and showcased their focused, clear-headed, and centered way of getting the job done. 

So we need to practice internal quiet. Career success is, in large measure, about differentiating ourselves from others, by standing out through the way we achieve essential outcomes. Not only does learning to harness quiet help you to get ahead, it also helps you the manage stress. Now shush…. 

Photo from jumpinjimmyjava – iKIVA via Flickr

5 thoughts on “Want to Get Ahead? Take 5. Learn to Be Quiet.

  1. So many great points that “should” be simple to put into practice! I know I need to work on #3 quite a bit. In a world full of beeping, bleeping, ringing, dinging, chiming, etc; sometimes it’s hard to remember to let quiet win once in a while. I am going to make more of an effort. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Dan. I can hear that ringing in my ears too. Yes, all that noise becomes habitual, making it difficult for quiet to get equal time. Good luck finding regular quiet times that will serve you. Best, ~Dawn

  2. We live at time where the line is blurred between multi-tasking and attention deficit disorder. Multi-tasking can be a strength, but as it increases it subtly slides toward the other. More management books begin to surface on reclaiming balance and wholeness in our lives, not just to live a more complete life, but to be more effective at work as well. Learning how to be quiet is one of those intentional strategies.

    If you, like Dawn and I, are a blogger or writer, try giving yourself the experience of a wordless morning sometime when you want to write: The night before plan to start your next day with your own thoughts, with your own quiet, and without distractions. When you awake, resist the habits of taking in outside information – no TV, radio, music, iPod, no checking other websites or reading newspapers in the morning. Try not to have meaningful conversations with others. This is time to be just a little selfish Just sit with your own thoughts until you begin to write. And if the writing doesn’t come quickly, just sit some more. Take a walk, and just let your own thought dominate your mind.

    Do this a second or third time and you may get hooked on this as a way to elicit your inner genius!

    When you get back to reading other sources again, you might enjoy one of these two posts:
    The high cost of not giving yourself time to think. http://www.bestcustomerconnection.com/?p=332

    Six ways to ensure time to think about your best customers

    Thanks for another great post, Dawn.

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