Powerful Pause

This week’s Pro Tip: Take a PAUSE. I’m thinking a lot about communication these days and received some follow up questions/requests for support in response to my last post (link). One S.O.S. I received via email included this question: ‘What do I do with the massive RAGE that comes up when fill in the blank starts to talk about fill in the blank‘?

Right now, the contents of these blanks are typically family and election related. The truth is that getting triggered and managing our reactivity to those triggers is something we’re constantly dealing with.

I know, it’s not easy and I have totally been there. So what to do. Avoid? Walk away?Block? Unfollow? Unfriend? Write the offender off? I vote no on those options. More than ever I’m throwing my votes in with exiting our silos and engaging in conversation, and not of the fiery, incendiary type. ‘But, how to start,’ you may ask. ‘It’s so tough,’ you say. ‘I’m afraid,’ you admit.

I hear you. That’s why I suggest take a pause. Seriously, and even in the most dramatic moment. Every moment. Tensions are running high, and that means our tendency to react instead of respond may win out, which certainly doesn’t help. So I’m encouraging employment of the Powerful Pause to take things down a notch.

Powerful Pause Benefits: It gives you an opportunity to ask yourself the important question, ‘What’s this really about for me?’ Pausing gives you a chance to assess what’s truly going on for YOU (hint: the only person you can ever truly change) that’s getting you so heated. Is the trigger the topic? Is it the person delivering their opinion on the topic? Or something completely unrelated like the fight you had with your beloved or your kids earlier? With clarification of that info in hand, you can then and only then decide–and yes, make an actual choice–about how to proceed.

I know that it can be clunky to ask for a pause, but it can also be aspirational modeling  for others and that’s the mindset I encourage you to embrace in taking on Powerful Pausing. Some sample language:

“I hear you, and I need a couple of moments to gather my thoughts to respond appropriately. “

 – or –

“It’s clear this is important to you, and I respect that and want to respond thoughtfully. I’m going to take a few moments to clear my head and fully consider what you’ve said.”

Just because you’re used to reacting instead of thoughtfully responding doesn’t mean you always have to. When we give ourselves a moment with something to think about it’s a gift we give ourselves and by extension, to those we’re in relationship with. Change begins one step at a time, and slowing down is a key first step.

Next up on the blog: more on knowing your limits.


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