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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey


Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


September 07, 2015

With school beginning again, we bring students’ basic skills back to mind as they extend their learning. So, too, it is good for the adults to revisit the most fundamental skills of coaching, inquiry, and dialogue – pausing, paraphrasing, and posing questions. For the month of September we will provide a brief review of pausing and paraphrasing.

We pause for the purpose of thinking. Thinking occurs within each person in the conversation whether it is a group or two individuals. Without pauses, thoughts often become externalized in words as they are forming rather than after they have taken form. Who among us has not wished we had stated something more clearly after we said it? The pause is about valuing the process of composing and recomposing our thoughts.

For many, silence feels uncomfortable, so gaps in speech are quickly filled. Remember to watch for eye movements that indicate a person is thinking. Eyes will return to the midpoint when the person is finished thinking.

As you practice slowing down to pause, make a point of asking for what you need. In a group, a frozen gesture accompanied by, “Let’s take a minute to think about this,” can be productive. In a dyad, 3 seconds can be enough time to prepare to respond. Some individuals count to three before responding until it feels more natural.

Take this invitation to make a commitment to yourself to pay attention to pausing in your conversations this week. Reflect on when it feels natural and when it is challenging. How do you consciously invite pauses both verbally and nonverbally?

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