Pausing for a moment when difficult situations arise may seem easy but, can be difficult depending on the situation.
Here are a few thoughts on practicing this:
The first way to pause is to Reflect. In our leadership workshops, we build in multiple reflection times and we design questions to guide the reflection, but you can generally use something like this:
- What just happened?
- How did it go?
- What was my reaction to what happened?
- What can I do next time to be better?
Another way to practice pausing is to stop and think in tense situations or to help figure out what to say next. My mom use to tell me to count to 10 if I’m feeling angry. Turns out that this works in most situations. It allows you to think about what is going on, assess how the other person is feeling, and decide how you want to respond. Stop and think is a great technique to help identify the urgency and importance of the decision. Sometimes, the “very important” decisions aren’t as urgent as we may think they are. Ask yourself if you can defer the decision until you have a moment to think it through?
The last way to pause is to practice meditation. People who meditate have increased self-awareness, better health, and improved EI. A 2011 study at Harvard showed that meditation “increased brain matter in the area of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection” and decreased it in the area responsible for stress and anxiety.
Pausing is a powerful way to develop your self-awareness as well as to help you regulate your emotions and behaviors.