The Power of the Pause

By Greg Nathan posted June 2, 2021

We once had a Chief Financial Officer who was a lovely guy and did great work. But boy could he talk. One day, when I requested that he get to the point, he asked how he could improve his communication skills. I looked at him and spelled out the letters W.A.I.T.

"WAIT? What’s that?" he asked.
"Why Am I Talking" I responded.
He looked up thoughtfully and burst out laughing. I must say, he did subsequently improve at getting his point across. He eventually left to start his own business, and several years later I received a very nice letter from him in which he said that the WAIT acronym had changed his life.

If you are an introvert, you are probably in the habit of thinking before speaking. However if you are in the 65% of extroverts, who only realise what they want to say after they have said it, you might find the WAIT acronym a useful tool.

When you think about it, pausing before we say or do something is smart. Not only does it enable us to clarify what we want to say, it can give more power and meaning to our words. In music, the pause also enhances our appreciation of what comes next. All the great musicians get this. Think of Beethoven’s famous "dah dah dah dah!........dah dah dah dah!" Or the creative pauses in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. If you listen, it is the pauses that help make the best Zeppelin songs so amazing. Great comedians also understand the power of the pause, known as comedic timing. Jerry Seinfeld is a master at this.

Indeed, in all areas of life, taking time to pause would seem to be a smart thing to do, increasing our capacity to make better choices. The famous psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, put it this way. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Perhaps we could all pause a little more to give ourselves an opportunity to recharge, reassess our priorities, and see things in a fresh light. Who knows, learning the power of the pause may just be the key to a happy life. As Simon and Garfunkel sing so beautifully in their 59th Street Bridge Song:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy

I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy

Until next time, may the pause be with you!

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