The Ursuline Chronicle

When Silence is the Answer

Valerie Cradler, Senior Editor

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“Use your voice”, “Don’t let your thoughts go unheard”, “Be vocal in your thoughts”. In a time so desperate for change, we are all striving to be heard. While I agree in voicing your opinion, what comes from listening and I mean really listening to other people is irreplaceable.

I watched a Ted Talk the other day titled, “How to Talk So That Other People Listen”. For someone who strives solely on conversation and human interaction, this obviously favored a right click. The man speaking broke down the talk into two sections; 7 sins of conversation and the 4 cornerstones of conversation. His talk really was intriguing but rather than taking talking points–literally and figuratively–from it, I began to wonder the role reversal of talking that is often overlooked. To listen to someone is to be selfless and to be selfless is to understand.

Conversation is the basis of all human interaction. In Gilgamesh also known as the universal solvent of literature, we are made aware of our human impetus to want to share our story. In comprehending and hearing others tell their stories we are made more aware of our own. This unforeseen desire we unanimously posses fuels our conversations. We understand more of ourselves by human interaction and in hearing that others may have been through similar experiences, we begin to peel back.


I struggle to write this piece as trying to define conversation and the exchange of words, leaves me at a loss of words. Understanding someone begins with the initial elementary greeting and from that the autonomic response can either continue to blossom or begin to wither. (Side note and reminder to value and hold on to the people when the latter doesn’t occur). The people I cherish the most in my life are the handful of people that I say I could, “listen to talk all day”. I find growth in attempting to understand life from their vantage point and yearn to hear their experiences within the days of the week I too, experience in my own unique way. I crave raw real world conversations and bask in hearing how others perceive our world. The listicle created in the Ted Talk was interesting but saliently acted as a catalyst to my thinking and fascination with why I choose to listen.

In personality, the majority of people, extroverted or introverted are comparable to onions. Offensive? Maybe, but hear me out….Onions have to be peeled back and then taken care of and then peeled back some more before one is willing to free the channel of their innermost thoughts. Each onion, or person, is indistinguishable to its own and while similarities do arise and experiences can transcend our individual, the way we recount them will not. In storytelling, the storyteller recounts and shares what was important to them. They reminisce and attempt to either relive or to forget the feelings they had in that moment. Paying attention to the minute details of conversation is a gateway to understanding what makes someone, someone. Whether it’s a petty and translucent or detailed and lengthy, each story is important as long as the reader knows that you too, think it’s important. In listening comes silence, when words can either be too much or too little. In paying attention to the silences you often hear even more. But this can only be heard if you’re willing to listen.

Conversation is infinite and widespread,and listening is often found in second place. Practice being selfless and strive to look for more people that you could, “listen to talk forever” and when you do, cherish them and really do listen. 

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The Ursuline Chronicle:The student news magazine of Ursuline Academy
When Silence is the Answer