Unless you work in a library or a monastery, you may not intuitively associate “silence” and “work.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, our working lives have everything to gain if the workplace could become more hospitable to silence — and related mindfulness practices. Leah Weiss, PhD integrates Buddhist wisdom, mindfulness practice, and holistic management principles to articulate a vision of how it is possible to cultivate a more “sane” workplace. Dr. Weiss is a professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is the author of the New York Times bestelling book How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind.
I think of silence in two ways. I think of it as the literal having periods in the day, intermittently, and sometimes they’re long, and sometimes they’re not, of having literal quiet. But I also think of it as inner silence that we can access (or not), and the world around us can be noisy, but if we have this ability to touch in with our own clarity and mental spaciousness… that’s another way to access silence, and you can do that no matter how loud it is on the city streets. — Leah Weiss, PhD
Weiss talks about how Tibetan Buddhism provided the forum for her own journey with silence — and how the experience of having a family (three small children) has deepened and clarified her understanding of the power of silence in her life. Arising out of her work with persons who are trauma survivors, or who have experienced toxic forms of silence (such as their voice being silenced), she offers insights not only about the blessings of silence, but also the importance of addressing honestly problems related to how individuals and organizations use silence in unhealthy ways as well. She muses on how community and connection are important “adjuncts” to the exploration of silence: by being able to talk to others, we more efficiently facilitate healing in our lives.
There’s lots of people who are out there claiming all sorts of absurd stuff about how mindfulness is a silver bullet and if you teach people to meditate, all problems will be solved. I don’t believe that. — Leah Weiss, PhD
Leah Weiss’s book:
What does it mean to create an environment where we can skillfully build positive silence, along with connection, support and healing? Not all of us are survivors of intense trauma, but all of us have traumas in our lives, in places where there is pain that we don’t’ want to touch, that hurts, and we need to have ways to deal with it. — Leah Weiss, PhD
Episode 30: Silence and Mindfulness at Work: A Conversation with Leah Weiss
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Cassidy Hall, Carl McColman
Guest: Leah Weiss
Date Recorded: July 12, 2018