I love the television show NCIS. In a recent episode Dr. Ducky Mallard said, “The language of silence may be hard to hear.” It struck me that if improving communication skills is important, then a crucial skill is understanding that silence is itself communication.

Let’s take a look at silence for a minute. Silence may mean uncertainty; fear; frustration; concern; “I’m thinking”; lack of clarity as to what to say; “I’m not going to tell you,” and so many other things. We so often ignore the silence, either rushing in to fill the space or not ‘hearing’ it at all. Often silence says more than words, and yet we not only don’t recognize this, we don’t even see the value of understanding silence when we think of improving communication skills.

In NCIS Dr. Mallard is referring to learning from the dead; their silence communicates volumes to him. Perhaps we can learn something from Dr. Mallard about the value of silence as a communication skill. I bet if we stopped and listened to the silence, we would hear volumes.