Yesterday I read a terrific quote by Sally Susman, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer from her new book, “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World.”
“A pause is not a period. It’s a comma. A breath. A moment filled with so much opportunity to make the next right decision.”
Where is taking a pause beneficial in our regular communication?
– Answering a question in a job interview.
– Thinking about how to give an effective presentation.
– Thinking of how to respond to unjust criticism.
– Fretting about a difficult conversation you need to have.
– Considering potential objections to an upcoming sales presentation.
– Providing coaching to a member of your team.
– At the beginning of a meeting you are facilitating.
– Before you begin negotiating.
– Initiating and ending a conversation with someone.
Many people have difficulty with silence which may explain why so few pause effectively when they communicate.
Susman also said, “Even experienced people can find these silences disconcerting and awkward and fill the gap by prattling on, often giving away more information than they intended. A study by Harvard psychology researcher Adam M. Mastroianni found that most people don’t know how to end a conversation and have trouble finding a good place to stop.”
A pause can be the very thing that is needed to punctuate effective communication – often the most important part of the communication.

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