I have been known to have fits of silence. There are times when I don’t want to speak up or out. Just be quiet. In high school and college raising my hand was right up there with dancing naked on tabletops. All eyes on me? No thank you.
In recent years I’ve grown out of my shyness…or whatever it was…to a certain degree. I can remember a break-out session at a conference. We were Team B and were supposed to come up with a proposal for changing a policy – something that would be a solution to a growing problem. We were gathered six to a table and totally silent. We introduced ourselves in fits and starts followed by dead silence. No one wanted to say more than they had to.
It happened again in an on-line class. I can understand what happened at the conference. Six strangers staring at one another can be scary stuff. But, an internet class is different. You are completely and utterly invisible. You could be dancing naked on a table and no one would know the difference. To the rest of the class your identity is a bunch of letters on a screen. Your stupidity or smarts are contained in written sentences and not by the sound of your voice.
The instructor wanted to go over the homework. He asked for a volunteer. Five seconds went by, ten…No key strokes. It was like crickets in a twilight field twenty miles wide.Utter silence. No one struck a single key for 15 seconds. He asked again. I volunteered by typing “go for it” and for 30 minutes my assignment was picked apart and analyzed.
Here’s what I don’t get. We are all professionals in this group. We all have a Masters in something. I’m sure there is at least one Doctor in the group. Why was I, little ole me, the only one to step up in this big pool of smart? It frustrated me because I was looking for new ideas, fresh perspectives to age-old problems. I’m the new kid on the block so I really thought I could stand next to the wise ones and walk away a little smarter. This time it was I who was teaching old dogs new tricks.