The Meaning of Silence
Did I get the job? Does he want to see me again? Whether it’s a contract, an audition or a prospective date, waiting to hear back about something can be excruciating.
Chances are we’ve all uttered some version of the following:
– “I haven’t heard anything back from him, should I call him again?”
– “I keep wanting to get together with my girlfriend X for lunch but she never gets back to me.”
– “I’ve sent a few follow-ups but no one’s contacted me about that contract/job.”
Seeing it written in black and white it’s obvious, isn’t it? He, she, they… they’re just not that into you.
Nothing is Something
I tend to be impatient and I like to have a plan: I want to know what’s happening and I want to know now. But I’ve been putting much effort into accepting that hearing nothing is actually hearing something. Silence is your answer and the answer is no.
Yes, technology can, on occasion, work against you as emails do get missed or go astray. Other times, it’s more of a “I’ve been so busy with my life I haven’t had a chance to get back to you.”
But until I hear yes, I operate under the assumption that it’s a no.
I’m not being negative, just practical. We often let matters rent room in our heads and this is my way of packing up a few of those dusty, space-stealing boxes.
I’m not suggesting sitting back and doing nothing. When it comes to work-related waits, I try one or two follow-up phone calls, emails or texts, depending on what the situation warrants. If I don’t hear back after that, I let it go. (Here are some tips on next steps when don’t hear back about an interview.)
At times, I’m pleasantly surprised. That contract I pitched three months ago? They do want to go ahead now? Hurray! (It happens.)
If not, I haven’t wasted precious time worrying about something that has already been decided, I just haven’t been informed.
The same holds true with relationships. (Understanding the Sounds of Silence in Your Relationship is a useful read with some pragmatic tips.) You’re not calling me back? You’re not telling me what I want and need to hear? That’s definitely telling me something. Reading what people don’t say, what they don’t do, can be more meaningful and insightful than what they do say and do.
I view silence as an action, a powerful one, that can speak louder than words and often tells me everything I need to know.
Top Image: deJoost.com