“Do not line the higher road with chickens.”
Great quote – right?
I made it up, in case you have never heard of it.
I am running a communication group with 12 of my clients. Obviously, given my job and education, communication is my thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t run into the occasional (cough, cough) communication challenge. I’m human. But generally speaking, I’m a good communicator (or so I’ve been told.)
For this group, I had to create the course content, so that meant doing even more research about communication. Of course, the best part about teaching is you always end up learning so much.
But you also often get to have some things confirmed – something that is also nice. Encourages you to keep doing what you are doing.
One of the things we discussed in the group was SILENCE.
Silence is a very powerful communication tool.
Silence can mean a bunch of different things. It can be very positive or very negative. It can be a useful tool, if it is eventually explained. In fact, I encourage my clients to use silence as a way to process and a way to plan an answer. However, one cannot assume that silence means something specific.
One thing that silence is not, is a form of taking the higher road.
You know the old “I’m not going to dignify that with a response.” To me, that usually means you know you don’t have anything really to say that can hold water. (It’s sort of like when people say “with all due respect” and then say the meanest things… Saying “with all due respect” doesn’t give you the license to be rude!!!)
Back to silence. You have to be really careful with silence because what you don’t say, other people can make up about you. It’s better to get your truth out there rather than someone else’s lies or stories.
Silence often is also taken to mean agreement – not disagreement – and that is what I am trying to teach my kids to really be careful about. Have the courage to speak your mind, share your opinions and emotions, disagree if you must, but don’t play the card of “I’m taking the higher road by NOT responding to you.” In other words, don’t be chicken. Stand by what you really think.
The higher road is about dealing with a situation with love and compassion. It’s about doing something for the better of someone else, and maybe sacrificing a bit of yourself to do it. It is filled with an attempt to find a “win-win” solution. It’s about trying to assume the best.
The higher road is not lined with chickens; it is not lined with disrespect, fear and ignorance. It is not the road you take when you can’t be bothered, are too intimidated, or angry. It is not the road to take to avoid dealing with situations, or consequences. In fact – it is the exact road you take to take responsibility and accountability. Silence can have a spot on the higher road for sure – but you have to be careful that everyone knows what message silence is supposed to send. Don’t use silence as an avoidance technique or a way to avoid accountability. Take the higher road by expressing and asserting yourself and your needs and be respectful and compassionate to the needs of others.