June 15, 2021
Recently I broke the law. I’ve done it a few times and I’m not proud of it. I need to stop. I have a habit of rolling through the stop sign in my subdivision. I know I need to stop, but it’s near a dead-end street so what’s the point? The point is I need to stop! There are consequences if I don’t.
I find myself asking clients to stop multiple times when we prepare for interviews or discussions with a team member or a boss. The tendency for most is to ramble when things are uncomfortable, yet the art of knowing when to stop can open opportunities.
The other day I changed my habit and when I stopped at the stop sign, I noticed a neighborhood girl with a lemonade stand on the other street. Because I stopped, I noticed my surroundings and gave a smile and a few bucks to a young blossoming entrepreneur which benefitted us both.
In business, when you respond to questions for an interview or in a meeting, try to stop and take a pause before answering. This gives you time to think so you can respond appropriately. Then once you respond, take another pause and ask the person you’re conversing with to confirm you’re on the right track. This is known as a pivot. It gives the other person a chance to interject or re-direct the conversation without interrupting you. It’s a courtesy to them and it helps you to be sure you’re on the right path to continue.
Some people are uncomfortable with silence and feel a need to fill the gap with words. But contrary to that belief, I’d like you to consider the rejuvenation it can bring if you allow for it.
Here are 4 simple ways to S.T.O.P. and make progress.
Soak in the moment.
- What is behind the question that you’re asked to answer?
- Why do you feel defensive or nervous?
- What is happening to your senses, are they healthy or productive?
- Why am I being asked to do this?
Just as in my example of when I stopped at the stop sign, I was able to notice my surroundings. I saw something I might not have if I kept going.
With an interview or a business discussion with a leader or employee, I find people want to go into too much detail when really, they should focus on the problem, solution, and the result. If more detail is required, once they stop talking, the other person can ask for clarity.
Train your brain.
- Think of the benefit of taking time before answering.
- What senses can be engaged by taking a minute longer to respond?
- What can you notice about your surroundings, how can you see the good in it?
- Focus on the positive outcome.
This part ensures that you seek a positive outcome. There is always something to discover if you pay attention. With stopping the car when I was supposed to, I took in the moment and slowed down before I made my next move. I gained a great cup of lemonade and a nice conversation with a neighbor.
For business, when you feel under pressure, recognize the pace of your heartbeat, take a deep breath, and realize there is something to be gained in your next move from what you learn, or hear for the first time. It may not be as fearful as you anticipated.
Open your mind.
- What opportunities might occur?
- Where have you been overextended?
- Who can learn from your experiences?
- What can you gain from listening to others?
When you learn to stop or pause before moving on, you begin to realize there are more opportunities to explore. In my car example, when I stopped, I also noticed a new landscape design that added value to our neighborhood and gave me some ideas for my own yard.
In the business example, when you spend too much time on what you want to convey in an interview or to your team, rather than what you can learn, you lose the benefit of hearing a new perspective on how to move ahead.
- Where can you flourish?
- What good will come from your actions?
- How can you help others to get ahead?
- What will others notice from your actions?
It takes time and patience to know what seeds will flourish from our actions. With the lemonade stand, who knows where this little girl’s dreams might take her because one more car took the time to stop and give her encouragement with her sales.
In a business setting, what new ideas or changes might occur from your proactive attempt to pause and listen in a different way?
A choice to stop, or pause before moving forward in a decision, a commitment, or a job change can be beneficial. Take time to reflect and then re-engage for the better.
I’m going to quit breaking the law and learn to S.T.O.P. before moving ahead. Will you join me?
To your success,
Business/Career Coach • Trainer • Author
Build U Up Consulting