Silence speaks volumes when using it as a response to a question that both you and the questioner know the answer to.  Answering the question would put you in a difficult position and yet you don’t want to lie.  Looking at the questioner with a serious and silent response can be a mirror back without being insubordinate.


Robert, the boss, makes last minute changes to everything because he wants every piece to be the best.  This perfectionism is what makes him so successful.  It also means late nights and weekends for the team.  When sales were low, he asked what we needed to do to reduce staff and said that if he needed to stop making late changes he would.  We both knew that he wouldn’t stop the late changes and that we couldn’t reduce staff any further.  A silent and serious look in response was sufficient to lead to a different topic.

Use silence carefully because it can also backfire.  If used inappropriately, it can leave room for question, which leads to mistrust.  Lack of trust is a direct path to being replaced.

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