Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Response-ability: developing the pause 'muscle'

Driving home the other night I witnessed a hilarious and simultaneously alarming instance of road rage. Cut up by another driver, I watched an aggrieved motorist get out of his car and beat the bonnet* of his persecutor's car with his hat, whilst roaring his displeasure.  A very 'Basil Fawlty' moment - spleen was vented but not a lot else was accomplished.
This reminded me about the value of the pause - the ability to stop, take stock and choose our response to a given situation - response-ability if you like. Instead of operating on 'automatic pilot' triggered by an event or situation we can engage the rational part of our mind long enough to make a more considered response. We may still choose to beat the bonnet but at least we are choosing not reacting.

The 'pause' is therefore central to our EQ and is a muscle we need to develop especially for stressful times. Peter Senge** has a very useful exercise called 'Moments of Awareness' which you can use to build your 'pause' muscle. It goes like this:

  •  Pause and ask yourself: 
    • What is happening right now? 
    • What do I want right now?
    • What am I doing right now to stop me getting what I want?
  • Make a choice.
  • Take a breath ..... move on  

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