Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Silence is Golden

Somehow witnesses and many other folks, too, have received the message from who knows, that it is important to keep talking and avoid silence at any cost in a conversation. William Isaacs in Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together wrote that people don't listen, they reload. Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations recommends "letting silence do the heavy lifting."

Silence is good. Silence is golden in witnessing conversations. Silence allows the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of the lost person AND the heart of the witness.

In a recent class on Story Listening Evangelism (SLE), two of the participants voiced concerns they face with this issue as they listen and witness. One said that it becomes awkward if they wait too long in the silence and it seems like they should have come up with something to say in the glaring gap of time that has passed in silence. the other said that here challenge is that she is already formulating what to say, even before the other person has finished speaking. That usually means the witness is missing something of what the person is saying.

For the second challenge, Isaacs recommends allowing the sound of the last word a person says to cascade into silence before the other person(s) in the conversation speak(s).

If the witness truly has no response at the time, then it is OK to say, I need to think about that. I'll get back with you. Christians do not have to appear or act like they have all the answers to be credible to another person. Being honest and modeling faith go a lot further than appearing as a know it all.

As for the first challenge, Susan Scott would say that the more complex the issues discussed in the witness, the need for even more silence. If the person witnessed to gets antsy about the witness's silence, the witness can simply, non-anxiously say I am giving what you said serious thought. Or the witness can do a perception check and say, It looks like my silence is leaving you a bit uncomfortable. Could I be right? Or I am wondering what your anxiety over my silence means?

Once again, these examples describe what is important in the SLE witness--the process.

In the next blog I am going to begin to introduce you to the newest tool in the tool box--applying the principles of Fierce Conversations(c) by Susan Scott to SLE. I will contend Evangelism should be Fierce (c).

See you again, then! Blessings

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