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Excellius Leadership Development

Raise Your Visibility & Value: Ask Questions to Pause a Conversation

Many of my clients collect feedback from others that they talk too quickly when they are involved in a conversation. Even before their colleague is finished making a statement, my client is already answering the question or discussing next steps. My clients receive feedback they they need to listen more, think more, and contribute more meaningfully.

If you are an impatient, fast-talker, one way to demonstrate better listening is to use the the power of the pause.” Before responding to the comments of a colleague, you add a step to the conversation – you pause. The pause is a subtle way to give your mind more time to think about what you are hearing, who you are hearing it from, and to listen more before speaking.

The best way to create a pause is to ask a question of your colleague so you can collect additional information. As Steven Covey is known for saying, “You need to seek first to understand, and then be understood.”

Pausing is not a delay nor a time to not listen. You want to collect more information by pausing and provide you additional time to slow… down… your… mind.

Here are some sample questions you might consider to help you pause your conversations and be seen as a better leader.

More information questions

  • Can you tell me more about what you are thinking?
  • What do you need in order to make progress?
  • What problem is this idea seeking to solve?

Making progress questions

  • How can I help you think through this to help you make this work?
  • What is your next step?
  • What is the next step to make progress?

Getting colleagues to think for themselves questions

  • What have you done in similar situations in the past?
  • If this occurred to someone else, what advice would you give them?
  • What are the broader implications/risks of doing this now?

Moving forward questions

  • What would you do differently next time? Why?
  • How will you make the changes you identified?

Ed Evarts is the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development, an organization focused on coaching mid- to senior- level leaders and their teams in business environments. With over twenty-five years of innovative leadership and management experience, Ed possesses the ability to build awareness, create action, and deliver results. Known for his business acumen, his ability to resolve complex human relations issues, and his enthusiastic, accessible and responsive style, Ed partners with managers, leaders and business teams to explore clarity and communication, and traverse conflict and change.