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What would Sooty say? Part 1 - The beauty of silence in coaching.

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

For those that were brought up with Sooty, the irony, of course, is that Sooty never actually ‘said’ anything out loud. He was very animate and very funny but in every other way, he was silent.

How comfortable are you with silence? Let’s try a little game (You’ll need 10 minutes)

1) Grab a pencil and paper

2) Now set a timer on your phone or watch for exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

3) Take three deep breaths, relax your shoulders and centre yourself and become aware of you.

4) Set the timer going…

5) Close your eyes and just sit and listen.

6) When the timer goes ‘ping!’ open your eyes.

7) Take three deep breaths and then become aware of what you have experienced.

8) Grab the pencil and scribble down some thoughts as you ask yourself these questions:

i) What did you notice?

ii) What are you thinking?

iii) What emotions are you aware of?

iv) How relaxed are you feeling?

Here are three more questions from me?

1) When was the last time you gave yourself 4 minutes and 33 seconds to just sit and be?

2) Why?

3) Why?

I challenge you to repeat the exercise at different times of the day and in different locations and to observe what silence actually is? Of course, it will mean you have to take about 10 minutes out of your busy day just for you.

This is a drawing of three famous puppets Sooty - a bear, Sweep - a dog and Soo whio is a Panda.  They are funny and are looking at each other in anticipation of a question from Sooty.
Sooty, Sweep and Soo

Coaching and Silence

My good friend and mentor, Dr Arthur Turner introduced me to the power of silence in coaching. I now think about this powerful state of being in any form of dialogue, be it coaching, meetings, walking and talking with friends and family.

Just sitting still can be a form of silence, not fidgeting. Having no emotional churn can be a form of silence. The silence of your inner voice as well as the noise around you.

Silence is a powerful tool in a coaching relationship. It can be comforting, it can be very uncomfortable. It is a gift of time – time for thinking and reflection in the safe space of the coaching relationship, a pause before moving into the next part of a conversation, a liminal space to prepare and become receptive to the entry and exit point of the coaching space.

Becoming more comfortable with silence and not feeling the need to fill the space (I deliberately do not say void) can generate a very powerful sense of being, without the need to ‘say’ anything. I do not say void because I hope you noticed when you were sitting for 4 minutes and 33 seconds that the silence was not silence.

If you repeat the exercise, your experience of silence is going to be different – so try it again!

What is the significance of 4 minutes and 33 Seconds? …well that is a good question – Ha!

To find out more you’ll have to read Dr Arthur Turner’s Journal Paper Silence and its role in coaching.

This blog builds upon my previous work: When do we have the time to stop and stare these days? How our lives are diminished if we don't. It is also a central element of my Ontological Coaching practice, to find out more read my blog Have you tried Deepak? It can put you in control. I am also really pleased to say that the Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets are still going strong, check out the link for the Sooty Show website you might learn something ;-) new.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts, and when you are ready you can read What would Sooty say? Part 2 - Sweep and soo give their perspectives too!


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