This year, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel – up for elections this coming Sunday – tops the Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list for the third year running.
A little while back she participated in a forum set up by Germany’s popular women’s magazine Brigitte in Berlin, chatting wittily and giving some surprising answers during the event called ‘Brigitte Live: Select Women!’
During the interview, when asked to choose her preference, to speak or to be silent, she said, “Silence.”
In answer to Why do you prefer silence to talking? she said:
“I couldn’t be a politician if I primarily would prefer silence to talking (laughs)! For example, in my former work as a physicist at the Academy of Science [then East Germany] I had much room for silence. And still I decided when the German unity happened, that I might want to speak a little more.”
Are you somebody who can easily deal with silent situations?
“In our society, silence is becoming a rarity. And to think during talking isn’t so easy either … one needs silence to be able to speak wisely. If one wants to think over various things before one starts talking, then I believe one needs a phase of silence beforehand…in any case one needs silence to be able to speak wisely.”
Have people in the past dealt better with silence?
“I think so, in the past it was more silent. I grew up in the countryside and I am sure that I still draw strength from the fact that I could sleep very restfully and that it was quiet. I also seek silence sometimes.”
But even without words the Chancellor sometimes reveals a lot about her inner life – her feelings are reflected in her face.
A problem for her?
“You have to stand up for yourself. It would be bad if I would always run around with a poker face.”