What Losing My Voice Taught Me About Leadership

no voice silent leadership
4 min read

As I’m writing this, I can hardly speak. I had an infection or virus and as a result, my so-called larynx is inflamed. That’s why I can’t use my voice.

You know that platitude, right? You only miss something when it’s gone. Man, do I miss my voice now it’s gone. Not in a “I love to hear myself talk” kind of way but in a “we really depend on our voice a lot to communicate” way. 

I wasn’t aware that I talk so much on an average day. Even though I write a lot, most things I do in my career rely on my voice. I still help run my family business and I regularly record training videos for my online classes.

I can still send emails or write articles like this one, but I can’t do much else. Initially, I was pissed off. But after two days, I realized there’s a lot I can learn from being silent. Here are 3 things I’ve learned until now.

1. Sometimes It’s Better To Not Talk

There are many situations it’s better to stay silent. I sometimes have the urge to comment on what other people do. I don’t know where this comes from. It’s funny because I don’t like it when people mind my business. 

And yet, I often say stuff that pops up in my mind. “I would do it this way.” Yeah that’s great, but you’re not the other person. So mind your own business! That’s what I learned about myself. 

It’s very relaxing to live that way. People can do whatever they want as long as they are not harming others. And you can too. So there’s no need to talk about what you would do all the time. 

A good leader is not someone who forces their ideas, strategies, policies, or values down other people’s throats. Now that I can’t speak, it reminds how important it is to work with the right people. 

If you’re around people who share the same values, you don’t even have to talk about many things. You simply get each other. 

2. It Makes Your Speech More Concise

Fortunately, I can still talk a bit. But anything more than one sentence hurts. Plus, I can’t speak loudly at all. That means two things:

  1. I’m careful about what I say
  2. It needs to be silent when I talk

I realized how often I just blurt out things and talk over people. It’s not a good habit. Often, a conversation is just two people talking over each other. As a result, neither person can finish a sentence. 

Do you sometimes feel drained after having conversations with people? It’s likely because of the two things I mentioned. We talk too much and we don’t listen enough.

When I get my voice back, I’m going to practice this more deliberately. Being precise in my speech has been one of my goals for a long time. I’ve improved a lot by journaling and writing down my thoughts.

But you can never tidy up your speech enough. It makes you more credible and effective. When you say things in an economical and simple way, people will get you more. 

Especially if you want to be a leader, you can’t be precise enough. Listening also plays a big role. When you take the time to listen, you can give better answers.

One of the reasons we don’t listen carefully is because we’re always thinking about what we want to say next. We don’t even let the other person finish their sentence. We just say what we think. Why not try to listen more?

3. Silence Is Soothing (not only for your voice)

I’m often around people. As a result, some days, it feels like I’m talking all the time. A lot of talk is simply fluff. It’s talking for the sake of talking. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I love talking. It’s one of my favorite things in the world.

But I gotta tell you, a little silence isn’t that bad. Somehow, it reminds me of some of the lessons from Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The title of that book is spot on.

During some situations when I would usually talk, I now stay silent. This is a very obvious thing to stay, but it makes you more present. 

These days, it’s very popular to jump on the mediation/yoga/mindfulness/wellness-train. Everything is all about stillness and nature.

I think we’re going too far with that. A lot of people who go extreme with that stuff are avoiding reality. What do you want to do with your life? Meditate all day? Never do anything for your community? 

Life is also about taking action. But at the same time, It’s okay to be still sometimes. Just not for too long. In fact, I hope my voice comes back soon. I haven’t sung in the shower for days.