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The Virtues of Silence

By Marty Nemko

Especially at difficult moments in conversations, silence can be more powerful than any words. Richard Nixon said, "Nothing in a statesman's arsenal is more effective than a weapon he might not even know he has: silence." (When the Watergate tapes were found, I'll bet Nixon wished he had practiced what he preached.) Silence is an especially valuable tool when you want to elicit sensitive information. "Our Town" playwright, Thornton Wilder observed, "Those who are silent, self-effacing and attentive become the recipients of confidences." It's always tempting to fill a silence with words but it's often worth resisting the temptation.

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