Silence and pausing is not something we contemplate much when conversing, answering questions, or presenting.
We are so focused on what we are going to say or answer.
Just think of a regular interaction with a friend. How often do you listen to someone speak yet you are strictly focused on when you can interrupt to make a point or respond?
We rarely take time to realize how silence speaks!
How often do you think about the utility of silence and pausing?
In business, the pause technique is referenced as a negotiation tactic. Maintaining eye contact without a word for just 2 seconds can shift the leverage. Essentially you are stating you know your value without words, and you add a little stress for the opposing party.
There is also the STOP method, which is “Stop” what you are doing, “Take” a few deep breaths, “Observe”what is going on within yourself physically, emotionally and then “Proceed”with an intentional choice base on your observation.
It is another way of being mindful as well which we can all use a little more of in 2020.
Once you get good at this you might be able to do what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does in this recent video. It is certainly an uncomfortable silence and yet it is clear he is using the STOP method to produce a quality answer.
Steve Jobs uses it in this video to deescalate a tense interaction. Just watch the first 60 seconds.
Jobs’s reply to "You don't know what you are talking about?"
He takes a sip of water … and sits.
For 10 seconds.
After making a short joke, he pauses again.
This time for eight seconds.
Taking a moment or two before engaging with a response yields many different benefits including a reduction in the number of “ums”, “you know” , “er” and other filler words.
How can you say what you mean and mean what you say without pausing first?
The problem comes when emotions go unchecked is we say or do things that we later regret.
Practicing and embracing awkward silence will not only allow you to calm yourself, it will boost your confidence.
Have a great weekend,
As that was coming out of my mouth I knew that it was wrong. Michael Scott, The Office (Season 3, Episode 21)
Silence is a gift. Learn to value its essence