Silence always has something to say – it’s never neutral and speaks volumes if people are willing to hear. Our response to silence is often to dismiss or end it, to block it out with noise. Instead, silence needs to be taken seriously. This book explores the importance of understanding silence and shows how we can move from merely listening to truly hearing those around us.

The interplay of voice and silence in organisational life is not straightforward. We can feel pressured to speak and compelled to keep our silence. Knowing how to read silence, to make sense of its generative and degenerative capacity, is a rarely developed skill among managers and leaders at all levels – who have been brought up to see silence as evidence of compliance or a weakness to be addressed. But it is a critical skill for managers and employees alike. Written by two experts in organisational development, this book explores different types of silence and their implications for organisational practice, digging into the theoretical roots and engaging with real stories and voices. It provides everyone at work with an understanding of the different meanings of silence and how to engage well with it. When to stay with it, when to join in with it, and when to be struck by what’s not being said and do something about it.

The Great Unheard at Work is essential reading for corporate leaders, HR professionals in all sectors, business students, professionals, and anyone interested in leadership development.

part I|31 pages

Seven shades of workplace silence

part II|108 pages

Creating and sustaining climates of silence and voice

chapter 3|13 pages

On silence

chapter 4|7 pages

The meaning of silence

chapter 5|6 pages

Silence as ritual

chapter 6|8 pages


chapter 7|30 pages

Silence at work

chapter 8|20 pages

Silence is a password

chapter 10|6 pages

Silence descends

part III|52 pages

Thirty-five voices… and beyond

chapter 11|28 pages

Thirty-five voices

part IV|22 pages

Dialogue retethered

chapter 13|20 pages

Putting dialogue to work