The first is tactical. During a mediation, we may remain silent while one party to a dispute wrestles with how to respond to a proposal, or maybe comes up with an alternative offer. This tactic can lead to a settlement. I don’t use it often, but when employed at the right time, it can move the process forward and eventually yield agreement.
The second can be tragic. This is the silence of unsaid words. The silence that comes when someone cannot bring him or herself to say, “I’m sorry” or “I’m to blame.” Or express a long submerged emotion that could shatter the silence and steer relations on a more positive course.