Silence as Acceptance

As lawyers, we are pretty good at taking. Indeed, we effortlessly talk “off the top of our head.” We can astound ourselves with the real-time generation of imaginative and sound theories and responses to challenging legal issues.

But, like all skills, it can become murky to distinguish a profound and deep insight from a defensive and contracted reaction. The insight feels effortless and genuine, so we go with it. The defense is not as effortless but it is proffered with a neediness that invests us deeply in its expression and our desire to be heard.

There are tell-tale signs in the latter case. When we are defensive and reactionary, our voice becomes louder. We are less interested in listening and can’t wait to speak “our mind.” We become impatient. we repeat ourselves until we are convinced the “other” has heard and understands us -- and hopefully agrees we are right.

As we move into this space, because we stop listening, those with whom we are interacting don’t feel heard. And so, all to often, they react by becoming defensive and contracted.

And the cycle repeats itself as we move deeper and deeper into misunderstanding, miscommunication, and feelings of separateness.

The Jurisight term “Silence as Acceptance” asks whether we can allow the moment to arise and allow it to be just as it is. Can we become an observer of the situation -- the other person, ourself, the thoughts and feelings being expressed, both stated and implicit?

The easiest way to do this is to simply “choose” to be silent. As you may know from experience, something amazing happens when we interject a pause in the midst of a heated interaction.

The silence is a technique we can use for “ourselves” to help us to learn to “accept” the moment. We learn that we somehow survive, even though we were silent. And, perhaps most magically, we are surprised with what emerges. The silence places up a mirror in which the reactivity engendered in that moment is reflected with greater clarity (than if we had distorted it with words). The other person, confronted with what appears to be our “acceptance,” has to grapple more directly with the confusion they are setting in motion. Often, they lighten up, they become more forthcoming, even generous.

Perhaps the greatest surprise of all is that by disrupting our pattern of reactivity, we see ourselves more clearly. We learn a new way. We achieve greater mastery over our mind and its compelling energy.