Silence is noise

Strangely, this blog post came up in my Facebook memories this morning. Normally, I don’t re-read my old stuff when it appears, but this one, for some reason, caught my interest, so I re-read it. And today, I find myself reflecting on that concept – not just for marketing communication, but for communication in general.

I want to focus particularly on this phrase: Sometimes silence is noise, too.

A lot of the times the noise in the channel are the things that aren’t transmitted because of the medium, or, because you just didn’t say them. Context clues can lead you far, far off course.

Let me provide you with an example from the last hour of my day.

I’m working with one of my colleagues on a proposal for a big company. We’ve had one conversation about this proposal, and I scurried off to start writing. I haven’t reached back out to him in a few days since taking on this project. That was my first mistake. Silence is noise. My lack of communication, in his mind, meant that nothing was happening.

This morning, he emailed several of us saying that there was to be a meeting with all vendors on this project. What he meant was that the buyer was holding a meeting with everyone who had received the RFP. What I heard, because of the lack of cues in the email, was that he had added subcontractors to the proposal without telling me, which really got my shorts in a twist. I was already frustrated by some personal stuff that was going on, so I immediately went full hothead and started calling people to resolve this problem. Since I was unable to reach the guy who sent the email, I called several others with my frustration. Basically, I let my hothead side take over. So the silence of the missing cues, combined with my emotional state, made me create a bunch more noise in the channel.

When this guy called me back, I discovered truly how wrong I was, and that not only did we not have subcontractors, we’re still on the same page. Then I had the great joy of calling everyone else I had talked to and telling them to stand down – there was no problem.

Silence not only is noise, but it can create noise.

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