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Why Silence Really Is Golden Sometimes saying nothing speaks volumes.

By Ross McCammon

This story appears in the April 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Paul Sahre

Conspicuous silence during any meeting makes you seem like one of two things: either the most engaged person or the least. Which one of those things you seem like is determined by the Seniority/Silence Bell Curve (or SSBC), which was established in 2016 by Entrepreneur columnist Ross McCammon. According to the SSBC: Silent bosses always seem smart, silent interns always seem smart and everyone else generally seems dumb, freaked out, uninterested, intimidated and/or on doctor's orders not to speak. But, like talking, silence is a form of communication. And it's only conspicuous if it's coupled with inexpression.

Why speaking is overrated

I try not to speak during the first 10 minutes of a meeting. It's the meeting equivalent of not swinging for the first pitch when you're at bat -- and everyone else in the room is a pitcher. The first pitch is the banter or speech or lunch order tossed early on in the meeting. (OK, I speak if it's a lunch order.) Even if that first pitch is a hanging fastball right over the plate -- an opportunity that would allow you to deliver a prepared or unprepared pithy nugget of wisdom, reason or way forward -- resist the urge. Wait till the next pitch. No one has ever regretted not speaking in the first 10 minutes of the meeting. Resist. And then wait. Your time will come again.

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