Re: Using Silence in Meetings LO2775

jack hirschfeld (
Tue, 12 Sep 1995 22:57:19 -0400

Replying to LO2737 --

David Hurst asks:
>BTW has anyone used extended periods of silence as a way to open a
>meeting? What were the contexts and what were the outcomes?

...if you are willing to think of 5 minutes as an extended period of time!
I was part of a "standing" team of self-defined "change agents" (the
Quality Department) which was trying to develop itself as a team. We felt
we needed to model teamwork, since we were promoting team organization in
the company. The ideological assumption was: "Be the change you're trying
to make!" We had gone through a "retreat" experience together, and the
facilitator had begun each day with a kind of meditative exercise, which
he called "centering". He played gentle music as a background. When we
returned to our work environment, I suggested a five-minute "centering" at
the beginning of each meeting. But we had no music, so we used silence
instead. At the very first meeting, we broke out into giggling after
about four minutes. At the second meeting, three of us (out of eight)
came late, and the team leader (the boss!) did not show up at all. There
was no third try for this practice. Obviously, a lot of unexamined
dynamics were at work, not the least of which was a fear of exoticism and
the appearance of "soft" headedness...

Jack Hirschfeld                               How long has this been going on?