In terms of a counseling ministry, silence can be so effective in letting the individual hear their words, giving them an opportunity to chew on them as they speak them out into the world. In prayer silence can be the reassurance of God traveling with one on the journey or the profound utter alone-ness of self, disconnected from God and neighbour.
In other areas of life perhaps being silent was not the most effective to make ones own opinion known, especially when you disagree but sitting in silence does allow you to ponder more deeply your reaction to whatever the speaker is saying, to think about why you disagree and not jump off the cuff with an emotional response. How many of us just leap into conversation, like the student who knows the answer and is so excited to share their wisdom. How often do we miss the point that a response or an answer is not even called for when we jump into the fray.
Perhaps the biggest learning in this time of silence is how many people just cannot shut up. That sounds harsh. It is harsh for some folks to hear that others around them just want them to be quiet. In some ways having someone blather on and on, never taking time to truly hear, show signs of understanding and even compassion in that understanding can be a bad thing. It acts as a smoke screen for others to hide behind because they know the mouth piece will be so busy rattling on they will not need to speak. For the mouth piece, lost is the opportunity to experience the sound of hush and find solace in that cone of silence.
While we may make fun of the stereotypical Buddhist monk, ohming on the the floor with his knees crossed, the image offers an eternal truth that is spoken of even by Jesus. Silence is essential in deepening the spiritual experience. It opens us to that which may frighten but at the same time bring depth in spirit.