As a coach and someone who trains on communication, I’ve been preaching the power of the pause for a long time. I am an outgoing person, and in trainings, I often illustrate a pause by sipping on my straw. You see, outgoing people can often speak before they think. When a straw is in my mouth, it is shut, and my brain has a chance to decide whether I really need to speak at all and to choose my words carefully.
Although that kind of pause can feel like an eternity since I should have been speaking, in normal, ever-day life, a simple pause can be the difference between a healthy discussion and a full-blown conflict. Never underestimate the power of a pause!
Pauses came in different shapes, sizes, and forms. Have you ever sent an E-mail you later regretted? Pausing on it could have given you the opportunity to review and rewrite accordingly. Ever had your feelings hurt and then blurt out something mean in return? A pause could give you a chance to swallow hard and decide that being spiteful isn’t the route to take. Just because they were rude doesn’t mean you should be, too.
Scrolling through social media, do you ever post a hasty comment that slams a person or puts them down because you disagree or find it offensive and wrong? A pause could help you step away from the drama, because let’s be honest, that is all it is. The odds are that you will never change someone’s opinion on social media, especially when blasting their comment. Should you truly want to share a truth, post that on your page, not theirs. Then when the low-EQ folks attack you, pause and pause often.
A pause is what helps us calm our emotions down when they are deceiving us. They want us to believe we will feel much better insulting a person and their every relative back to the stone ages when the reality is we will feel awful. A pause can often save the day!
Any time humans get together whether in person, on the phone, via e-mail, or through the Internet, miscommunication is not an “if” but a “when.” It is a fact of life. How we handle it can use the misunderstanding to create a stronger relationship or blow it up with a nasty conflict where the relationship may not survive it. We hold the power.
Holding our tongues isn’t weak. In fact, I’d say it takes great courage and high EQ to do so in a world that screams and yells at each other at the drop of a hat. People say things on social media they wouldn’t dare tell someone face-to-face.
Be the better person and use the pause. Think before you speak, contemplate before you hit send, and question your motives for posts. You will never regret holding back hurtful words. In the end, people are people. They will do what they will do, but you don’t have to participate or play their game. You can walk away with your head held high. A side benefit…you will sleep better at night knowing you didn’t say what was really on your mind. Keep them guessing and move on!
Looking for more communication tips and ways to avoid conflict? Get a copy of my book, Leveraging Your Communication Style, and discover your unique communication approach and how to adapt to others to build bridges, not walls.
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