When you are in a hurry, you can be dangerous. Carl Jung said, “Hurry is not only of the devil. Hurry is the devil.” You might do something you’ll regret, or say something you’ll wish you hadn’t. When you are in a hurry is the best time to slow down and engage in “self-talk.”
This strongly applies to conversations. Don’t be in a hurry! Don’t rush through a talk. Rather, let there be pauses in your discussions. See what happens if you take a breath before responding to what another has just said. How often do you feel that you get to say what you want to say, at the speed with which you wish to say it, without being interrupted or having someone tailgate the last sentence you voice by inserting his or her own sentences?
The Golden Rule applies here. To put it in the negative: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others.” That means, don’t converse with others in ways offensive to you.
Sometimes all we really want is for someone to listen to us, to hear us all the way through. You cannot understand if you do not hear; when you listen the other likely feels understood. Persons have come to talk with me less because they expected me to “solve” their issues – I am not a miracle worker – than because they wanted someone to listen to them. To listen means to care; conversely, not to listen means not to care. If you do not take the time to listen, that means you are not taking the time to care. Love and listening are inseparable. To love means to want to listen and learn about your loved one. And that takes time, for which there is no substitute.
There are surprising benefits from taking a breath or pause before responding to someone after they have finished speaking. How do you know they have finished speaking? They are silent. Of course some people seem to have difficulty being silent for very long. I know persons who appear to have mastered the art of breathing while speaking, so that they do not seem to require pausing to breathe!
I remember a three-way conversation with two of my friends, when this became clear to at least two of us. These long-standing friends are about as verbal as I am, so when we get together, wow, do we ever talk. One of the guys lets pauses come after and before speaking, rendering him most easy to talk with. The other has an amazing ability to talk non-stop, while remaining interesting the entire time. During this particular conversation, about a third of the time when the former would begin to say something, the latter would either interrupt or continue on as if the other had not begun speaking. The former would then silently wait until the other was done – which could take a while. Or I would wait until a slight pause in the action to ask him, “What was it you were going to say?”
Back to benefits. First is that the other will generally appreciate the fact that you are granting time not just for the other to finish, but for what was said to perhaps sink in a little bit. And how long does it take for comprehension to occur? In addition to our having difficulty listening and giving one another time to talk, we also have difficulty comprehending what exactly is being said, together with what significance it may have to the speaker, as well as to us.
Together with enhanced appreciation and comprehension, another benefit of pausing is a relaxation in the conversation. As is said, “Slow down and live.” When you pause, you may discover greater patience as well as perspective.