Put on the brakes | Using pause to improve communication

by Betty Lochner on October 5, 2011

When you are in a hole, stop digging. ~ Ian McIver


Pause [pawz]  – temporary stop or rest, especially in speech or action.

Do you ever wonder how you get yourself in the communication situations you do?  It starts out okay, then you speak up and something goes wrong?  You don’t say what you mean, or, you say too much, or, it just doesn’t go well at all?   Yeah, me too.

That’s exactly why I’m sharing with you my #1 tip for avoiding a communication problem.  It’s called: PAUSE!

Pausing is more than just a moment in time. It requires us to become quiet inside, and allow our internal resources to assist us in how we should respond. Sort of like putting on the brakes for a second.  It slows you down and often avoids something you don’t want to have happen.

When you consciously Pause, you automatically slow your listening down. That’s right. Pause + slow down = listen to communicate better!  Using a Pause is a trigger you give yourself to listen first and then respond in a conscious and non-automatic way. It’s choice you can make each time you communicate with someone. 

I admit that some of us need to hit the Pause button more often than others. I am one of those people. Myfirst instinct is generally to say something right away, to explain, rebut, defend, or to argue. I am a “ready, fire, aim” kind of person.  Frankly, it’s not always the best choice for me.

Do you need to learn to put on the brakes in some of your conversations? Please share you thoughts and stories!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty Lochner October 5, 2011 at 8:36 am

Thanks for your comments, Leslie. Sometimes not saying anything is the right thing to do. Also, you need to get ready to say what you need to say in a kind and respectful way. I’ve written a few blog posts about having hard conversations as well. It’s not easy!

2 Leslie Parker October 5, 2011 at 7:17 am

I so relate to this article. I am right there at this moment. I’m so afraid to speak to the ones who are the closest to me right now for fear of saying the wrong thing and adding to the conflict. I know it’s not all me that other peoples issues are involved but it’s honestly made me uncomfortable with me.

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