7 Things I Learnt When I Went 24 Hours Without Speaking

Some good, some bad, all relatable.

My tonsils are my Achilles heel. When I get run-down, my throat kicks up a fuss and I usually end up losing my voice.

But even when my voice goes on strike, I, of course, keep working. I don’t just tuck myself into bed with lemon-honey tea or treat myself to TV fests in a comfy robe. Nope – I keep trucking on, and eventually I came to learn some key things about myself and life in general without a voice…

1. I like being quiet. 

Being silent was dangerously fun. Actually, more than that, I loved it. It’s kind of like Paradise Island for an introvert, because you are still playing a part in life but it’s not a speaking role. The wall of distance you always feel between yourself and the rest of the world is entirely justified for once. With enough antiseptic spray spritzed to numb the pain, I was in a silent retreat of my own and I didn’t have to make mind-numbing small talk – it was heaven.

2. You don’t need to speak to show gratitude. 

I always think actions speak louder than words and a heartfelt smile speaks volumes. Even when you can’t speak, your eyes can still twinkle and say a silent ‘thank you’, which proves that the best way to say thanks doesn’t need to involve words.

3. You can still get things done. 

I got up, got dressed, got to work all as normal; none of those things require speech. At work, everyone knew I wasn’t well, so I could shut myself away for long stints at a time without looking antisocial. Plus, I got more done when the chit-chat was removed from my day.

4. Silent face-to-face communication is better than emails. 

In a world that allows us to do everything remotely, we often rely on emails to communicate effectively – and it does, to a certain extent, but what you gain from being face-to-face with people is swift expression that doesn’t need speech; you can’t get that via email!

5. People love the sound of their own voice. 

When you’re safely cocooned in your little silent bubble, you can observe human behavior brilliantly from the outside. You really notice how much chatter there is; pointless, meaningless conversation that is purely people blabbering on where silence would suffice. Most people love to chat, they love the sound of their own voices and they don’t use conversation to actually achieve things.

6. Being in public is awkward. 

Sitting at home watching TV is one thing, getting things ticked off your to-do list at work is all well and good, but being out in the big, wide world is plain awkward. You can still smile in the street if a stranger catches your eye, but what about the owner of the local grocery store? I tried pointing at my throat and shaking my head to explain my predicament, but that didn’t work. I ended up writing ‘I can’t speak’ on my phone and showing him. Of course then he was full of questions. I had to shake my head and head home – it was too hard.

7. My personal to-do list gets longer. 

As long as you’re not a public speaker or lecturer and you’re not in pain, having no voice doesn’t actually mean you can’t go into work and get things done. However, your personal to-do list does get longer. It’s not worth scribbling out enough messages to head into your local bank branch to discuss switching your new account. You can’t call your pay-TV service to talk about upgrading your package, and when your mother calls from overseas you have to let it go to voicemail and send her an email to explain. Some things are simply put on hold.

Comment: Tell us about an awkward #wordvomit moment that left you wishing you’d had no voice.