Let’s take a moment and think…

You see that wasn’t hard. Sometimes in life you must take a pause. Reflect on what has just been told to you. Choose to not come back so quickly with some kind of statement that potentially you may regret, or even worse, could never take back.

In business I think we should learn the fine art of the pause. This is that mystical period of time from the moment your client says things like, I have a great idea, begins to explain it, asks “What do you think?” and you give them some kind of feedback. A moment of silence. A place where a solar system of ideas converge into one space to eventually explode into a beautiful array of colors, lights, and sounds.

But how often do we not pause?

We spit ideas out without any real planning or thought. Zero thought through strategy. We don’t pause long enough to discover the great idea just lying dormant in the corner of our minds waiting for spring time to wake it up.

It was once told to me that if I’m spending so much time thinking of an answer, I’ll miss what the other person is trying to say to me. A moment demanding a pause. We need to take time to carefully listen to what the client is saying. Stop and replay it back in our minds. Then decide how to answer. This gives us enough time to give the right answer, hopefully, instead of an answer that makes us look unprofessional, uneducated and insensitive.

“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain’s Speeches (1923 ed.)

A pause is an effective tool in a creative’s arsenal. Pauses:
– Give a chance to think
– Provide more solid solutions in the end
– Keep conversations in your court
– Allow for clarity and unity
– Usher peace amongst parties involved.

It can look like many things, last varied lengths, and comes in many shades. I think Mark Twain said it best:

“That impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words howsoever felicitous could accomplish it…. For one audience, the pause will be short; for another a little longer; for another a shade longer still; the performer must vary the length of the pause to suit the shades of difference between audiences. … I used to play with the pause as other children play with a toy.”
– Autobiographical dictation, 11 October 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (University of California Press, 2015).

Embrace the pause.

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