How to Pause and Take Back Control When You Need It

pause button

by theslowman

I recently wrote about how I came to learn about the power of the Pause. I capitalized that because it’s just not used enough. Too many people speaking before they actually know what they want to say. Too many off-the-cuff remarks getting us into out-of-control situations. Too many people jumping over each other just to get a word in.

But the Pause can often be a solution.

How to Press Pause

When it comes to maintaining control of your energy and priorities – rather than giving them over to unreasonable demands, for example – the pause is only part of the solution. What remains is what you do during that pause.

For the people pleasers, you tireless keepers of the peace (despite your own well-being) you should use that brief interlude to tap into the matrix that is your brain and figure out what the ideal outcome should be. For many of us saying “no” is extremely difficult. It feels confrontational. But often, you don’t even have to say “no.”

That TPS report is going to take at least 2 days to put together? Before you say “yes” to your manager, just pause, take a breath and count to 7. While you’re doing that, calculate how much time the project is really going to take before you respond.

Again, the word “no” never has to cross your lips. All you’re doing is telling that person facts (that you’ve just given yourself time to reflect upon).

Of course, there are people who have no problem saying “no” and don’t shy away from confrontation. I think I have less advice to offer the those folks since I’m not one of them. But, I suggest pondering how much of your time and focus could go toward the things you’d rather be doing, versus how much of your energy is spent on conducting mini-battles.

How many of those confrontations could have been totally avoided with the presence of the Pause?

Taking the Pause to the Streets

I think the pregnant pauses in our lives should even go beyond verbal encounters. Consider the pause before replying to that panic-stricken email about the status of a project. Before you post your impassioned (and possibly embarrassing) comments on Facebook or some random blog, just give it 7 seconds and foresee the ramifications of saying it in publicly visible places… like the entire Internet.

If it’s worth saying after 7 seconds of reflection, go for it.

Do you practice the pause? If not, how do you keep your professional and personal encounters from overtaking you?

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