Give Yourself a Blue Ribbon

Posted on August 26, 2013| by Geoffrey Tumlin

Anyone who’s ever taken a public speaking course or participated in a speech contest knows that awards and recognition are given for the words that have the greatest impact. But in our daily lives, it’s often the words we don’t say that have the biggest impact.

We should give ourselves a blue ribbon for these invisible—but significant—communication achievements: the troubles that are prevented because of your silence, the fights that never happen because you choke back the urge to retaliate, the damage that never materializes because you don’t talk when gripped by negative emotions, and every single time you contain an escalating conversation to protect the underlying relationship.

None of these achievements will be publicized—spoken or written words get most of the communication glory—but acts of thoughtfulness and communication restraint are heroes in your most important relationships. Counterintuitively, some of the best evidence that your communication skills are improving—and that your relationships are getting stronger—will come from things that never happen.

There’s more to communication than what you say or type. Your most important relationships often turn on words that never see the light of day.

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