Coaching for Creatives | The Pause

December 23, 2013


The day after I discovered I was pregnant I downloaded the parenting book and easy-read “Bringing up Bebe” on my Kindle. (I promise this isn’t actually a pregnancy post – hang tight – I have a point.) So this book is all about an American woman raising her babies in France and how they do it different (and as the author suggests, better) from her American counterparts. One of the biggest concepts of the book that I latched onto and can still recall 8 months later is the idea of The Pause. The author notes that French women pause before reacting to their babies. Whether it’s a baby fussing in the middle-of-the-night or a toddler throwing a mid-day tantrum. Pausing can offer perspective and time to let things sort themselves out. Even just a few seconds of pausing can keep us from depleting our own energy from unnecessary reacting.

Now replace “babies” with “clients”, “stressful feedback”, “relationships”, “business opportunities”, “offended readers”, and “decision-making”. Insightful beyond just parenting, right? I recently learned that I’m an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs personality test – and a few of my dominant personality traits are that I like to act fast, make decisions on the fly, and pretty can’t stand anything being unresolved. I have a hard time living in the question – I want answers – even if I have to make them up myself. I’ve never been one to “sleep on it”. These hot spark characteristics usually work to my advantage – especially in business. But sometimes the need for immediate resolution and answers gets me into hot water, on thin ice, and between rocks and hard places (pretty much all the cliches apply).

As I’ve gained experience working with some brilliant consultants, considerate thinkers, and creative business owners, one of the personality traits I’ve really come to admire in others is the ability to pause. Here are a few real-life examples of where I could use some practice with the pause – maybe some of them will resonate with you too:

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Pause before saying yes or no – I can’t get through a single day in my RSS feed without reading an article about saying no. And while I tend to agree with the intent behind saying no (usually having something to do with work / life balance), I don’t think it’s always the best answer. Hitting the pavement and saying yes over and over again has gotten me so much further down my path than I could’ve ever imagined. It has taught me which opportunities, projects, committees, and engagements work – and which ones don’t.

So these days instead of jumping to commit “yes” or “no” on the spot I say “Let me take some time to think about it. Can I let you know by [date]?” Or for example – if it’s a potential client that may not fit my dream customer profile, I’ll say something like “Maybe we could set up a time to Skype and see if we’re a good fit.” So I’m not skirting the responsibility of making a decision but rather adjusting the timeline of my required response. I take time to pause and actually think it over and can come back with an articulate and considered response as to why I’m saying yes or no.

Pause before reacting to criticism – Whether it’s an offended blog reader or an unsatisfied client – I usually want to be right, and make it right ASAP. But lately I’ve learned that pausing before offering a reaction allows me come to a solution from a much more level-headed, rational, and not-so-emotional or defensive space. Sometimes the pause even gives me time to realize that the offense had nothing to do with me, or criticism was much more perceived than an actual reality.

Pause in conversation – I’m a space-filler. Usually because I’m opinionated and never lack something to say in most instances. But lately, especially when I’m coaching, networking, or even in book club with friends, I take time to pause. This gives me an opportunity to actively listen – which is something I’m really just now learning the value of. Also, you appear smart, calm, and professional when you’re not constantly jumping in with half-baked ideas. You know… that whole “thinking before speaking” thing. (That said, I love a good rambling brainstorm and think there’s lots of value to that too – but that’s a whole other post).

Pause before nagging – This is more personal but pausing before nagging makes for a much happier partnership. Need I say more?

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When are times that you practice (or could stand to practice) The Pause?  

P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.


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