Re: Using Silence in Meeting LO2758

Barry Mallis (
12 Sep 1995 08:08:17 -0400

Reply to: RE>Using Silence in Meetings LO2737

David Hurst's comments are interesting to me, because they point out to me
the indistinct boundaries in our discourse about LO's. In this case the
topic is silence in meetings and agendas as constraining/restraining

Businesses groups who meet often rely on data for making decisions.
Delivering that data is a from of agenda in itself. So the agenda has
roots in at least this one area. Conversely, the lack of agenda can be
misinterpreted as lacking data. Lacking data may be viewed in some
instances as lacking professionalism. No one wants to be accused of that.

Reality, in my opinion, lies somewhere in between. Agendas need not be
constraining or restraining if they are simply viewed as frameworks for
discussion. I don't think I can accept any argument which implies that an
agenda per se throttles creativity, synthesis and progress toward problem

If there comes a time when agendas are unneeded, great. can anyone
imagine that? Even in small companies or groups where agendas are
ostensibly nonexistent, when people gather there are hidden agendas of at
least one thought, no?

Silence does have it's place in meetings and groups. Facilitators are
sometimes taught to respect moments of silence for a variety of reasons.
In the United States I venture to say that silence demands little respect,
because it represents a lack of "fill", a void, negative nothing--as
opposed to other countries where, let us say, silence is more tangible.

Perhaps it's an offshoot of manifest destiny and the post-Columbian
American need to build, fill, harness, etc. Native Americans, whose roots
go back across the land bridge westward, continued in some ways a long
tradition of appreciation for silence, emptiness, positive nothing. Such
was their agenda.

Best regards,
Barry Mallis