The Silent Project is a social experiment within which I will be learning to listen differently. As a cultural anthropologist and former TV news anchor, I have spent many years professionally observing, interviewing and reporting on what other people are doing, saying or experiencing. As I explore and experience my personal journey of listening differently, I will be utilizing the tool of not speaking as a means to expand the space and energy to simply listen-- without the need to opine, judge or defend. The date I’ve chosen to enter this period of silence is January 23, 2014. I won’t be speaking or using my voice for one year.
Through the blog on The Silent Project, I will recount the experiences, insights and challenges of living and listening without speaking. One hypothesis is that people who don't know me or have any expectations of me will not care whether I speak or not. Others may be curious or make assumptions about my silence but will honor and respect it. Some may believe my choice to not speak will mean that I'm deaf. A few may experience irritation at my inability to communicate via speech. On the other hand, those who know me and who have expectations that I continue to communicate in ways they have come to expect may choose to be disappointed or even agitated at my undertaking this journey.
Preliminary explorations in which I’ve been in public while maintaining silence have yielded very positive results. I’ve found people to be very friendly, warm and engaging, supportive and helpful. They don’t know why I’m not speaking or that this is a “project” for me. Instead, they simply accept that I don't speak.
The blog offers a safe space for me to chronicle what I'm learning, thinking and feeling and allows me to silently voice my opinions, even as I refrain from speaking. As a broadcast journalist, I didn’t share my personal views in my reports, so it’s going to be interesting to express myself with transparency and authenticity. My intention for this project is not to ruffle any feathers, but instead to reveal myself and my flaws and weaknesses, while also demonstrating leadership, integrity and vulnerability. I am aware that some people may disagree with my opinions, thoughts or choices. It is certainly possible that I may receive criticism or flack for some of what I share. It will all be through my filter of what I’m experiencing through The Silent Project.