Tell me. Have you seen this happen?
A parent and their child are having a conversation with another adult. The other adult asks the child, “How old are you?”. But before the child can answer, the parent says, “She is six.”
A parent is in a group with their pre-teen. One person asks the pre-teen, “What kinds of activities do you do outside school?” The parent answers, “Oh, she does soccer, golf, and karate!”.
A family is in a restaurant, and before the wait staff comes to take the order, they have a “what are you going to order?” conversation. The wait staff asks, “What can I get for you?”. One party at the table says, “They will have the cheeseburger with a side of fries. I will have the turkey burger with a side salad”. The other party had just changed their mind, though, and they give that person a look.
You are in a meeting with a colleague. Someone asks you a direct question. Four people at the table answer the question for you.
You receive an email in your inbox asking you a direct question. Ten people are copied. Within 15 minutes, ten people reply. Some of the answers are incorrect. A very long email trail follows, resulting in a scheduled meeting.
You are in a meeting about a long email thread. The facilitator asks someone a direct question, and ten people speak up again. It takes a few minutes for people to stop interrupting each other in order to get the answer from one person.
Hey! Don’t be that person. Let others speak for themselves. If you have input after that, it will be much easier to have a respectful conversation, and the person being asked will respect you more.
The key to your success is PAUSE.
When someone asks a question – PAUSE and consider if the question was for you before you answer.
Or if you see an email and are tempted to respond, PAUSE and double-check to whom the email was addressed.
If are in a meeting, and a question comes up, PAUSE and think about whether the question was for someone else. If it was, then stay quiet and let them answer. Even general questions for the whole group can benefit from a PAUSE so that you let others do the talking.
The Pause is incredibly powerful, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
In my coach training through The Life Coach School, “holding space” is taught and reinforced as a crucial skill for allowing the brilliance of others to shine.
In the book, “The Coaching Habit” there is a Haiku that I love that says,
“Tell less and ask more.The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer- page 192
Your advice is not as good
As you think it is”
In addition, the art of pausing and allowing someone else to talk is discussed in the book, “Crucial Conversations” by authors Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Emily Gregory.
So, If you see someone speaking for others, PAUSE.
Consider how and when you can help them learn the value of letting others speak for themselves. Feel free to share this article too.
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