Everyone has an opinion, right? And everyone wants to be heard. That combo can lead to a communication nightmare in the workplace. We can easily become hyper-focused on our contributions to a discussion or problem that we make no room for others to do the same. Why would that be a problem? We know that organizations require ALL personality types to function optimally. When we shut out even one differing voice, we abandon our path to true organizational success.
Have you ever thought or used the phrase, “It gave me pause?” Either when you’ve heard something out of context or when you heard a novel idea? What did you do with that compulsion to pause? Did you embrace it and learn? Or did you ignore that voice?
To our detriment, conversations are not often replete with pauses. That would preclude a healthy flow of ideas, the foundation of conversation. When pauses do occur, therefore, they are meaningful and goal-oriented. The purpose of taking a pause in conversation is to allow the “pauser” the opportunity to respond. To respond, however, the information must first be consumed and then processed in light of available alternative information.
Hick’s Law states that there is a linear relationship between response time and number of available response alternatives. Removing the technicality and applying this law to conversation, we see that if we take time (PAUSE) to consider multiple alternatives to how we might be instinctively inclined to respond, our response time will be slowed. We will be forced to pause.
When we pause and process response alternatives, we cause ourselves to consider that there is a response other than the one we were eager to give at a specific point in conversation. In fact, we might find that there is a superior response to the one we could have blurted out. We might discover that we are thinking and rational creatures, capable of staving off the instant gratification of immediate retort. Most likely, in this process of PAUSE, we will unveil a response option that is of greater communicative value, and consequently more prosperous to the relationship at hand.
To begin practicing, choose one opportunity today in which you refrain from responding to one of your coworkers. Repeat what he or she just said to you. Push your automatic thoughts to the side and let it sink in. Process what you heard. Honestly evaluate the message. Produce a thoughtful response. Or none at all.
When we practice the PAUSE, we give a gift to our coworkers. When we PAUSE, we listen. When we PAUSE, we give over the floor. When we PAUSE, we make room for another’s valuable contributions. To whom will you give this gift today? You and the organization will reap dividends of efficiency and innovation.