Silence is golden…until it isn’t.
Silence is an excellent tool to use when talking to the customer. Silence can convey that you’re listening, that you are patient, that you are being kind and are deferring to the other person. Being silent can convey that you’re intentional about what you say, pausing before speaking.
And the benefits of silence are not just about the effect it can have on the customer, silence can also benefit you. By being silent, you’re allowing yourself time to understand the other person. You’re allowing yourself time to formulate a response. You are oftentimes able to relax yourself by breathing rather than speaking, by thinking rather than feeling like you have to immediately react to the other person’s statement.
But there are times when even silence can be overdone. Particularly when you’re dealing with somebody who has an issue, silence can mean – to them – that there is a bigger issue than even they had anticipated. Silence can mean – to them – that you’re not understanding their situation. Silence can mean – to them – that you’re having trouble finding their order, coming up with their account, accessing their appointment information. And silence can mean – to them – that you just don’t care that much, that you aren’t very interested in engaging with this person.
So, even though we’re not communicating verbally with someone when we’re silent, we are definitely communicating with them. If we use silence intentionally, we’re silent to convey a certain message, or to be more thoughtful, or to ensure we’re just listening as sincerely and as productively as possible.
But think about, as well, these examples for when silence is overdone. There are times when that customer needs that dialogue, needs you to convey that understanding, needs you to convey the steps you’re going through on their behalf.
Ensure you understand the situation before you determine whether and how to use silence. Then, use silence wisely.