Managers who are charged with the responsibility of supervising employees face a balancing act just about every day. How do you provide constructive criticism for employees without damaging morale?

This kind of leadership skill becomes even more challenging during uncertain economic times. With frequent announcements of layoffs among corporate heavyweights, many people are worried about their job security. Don’t underestimate how that environment affects your staff. For many people, economic concerns have a real impact on productivity.

Providing your staff members with honest and updated information about your organization’s financial standing is one way to provide the kind of reassurance your staff needs. But allow me to make another suggestion—be quiet and listen to your employees.

In my article “Want a management tip? Learn when to shut up!”, I described why managers need to use silence as an interpersonal skill. When you remain quiet, it usually prompts your staff members to speak—giving you an opportunity to learn and providing the staff members with the chance to express themselves.

As of this writing, more than three dozen TechRepublic members posted comments to my column on silence. Most members endorsed this technique and described how it helped them with everything from diffusing tense encounters with employees to improving negotiations with vendors. Read my ideas on silence and give me your feedback.

Is silence golden?

When have you found using silence to be beneficial during a difficult conversation? Have you ever tried this technique and had it backfire? Read “Want a management tip? Learn when to shut up!” and post a comment about the article or send us a letter.