Tactics and Tools

The Importance of Waiting for the “Thinking Pause”

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 09/16/2016

As a person who often needs a “thinking pause,” I appreciate these words from Timothy Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute on how to improve your apologetics conversations with others:

An excellent listener should develop both the wisdom to recognize and the patience to allow space for a thinking pause.

There are two types of pauses that can take place after someone finishes talking: 1) a conclusion pause, and 2) a thinking pause. A conclusion pause takes place when the person has concluded his statement and is ready for you to jump in with your thoughts. A thinking pause takes place when the person hasn’t actually concluded; when he intends to continue but needs to stop to think.

The problem is that these types of pauses strongly resemble each other. When someone needs a five to ten second pause in between sentences, he doesn’t usually tell you, “Hang on, give me a second to formulate my thought.” You can’t count on everyone to be that articulate of a communicator....

I’ve noticed that people who tend to process quickly and/or internally are especially prone to being too impatient to allow for a thinking pause. I’m describing myself here so I have had to really work on this, and even so I mess up and get impatient sometimes. It sure feels like they should just say what they need to say and get on it with it!

Some people process slowly, and that’s okay. Others need to process their thoughts out loud in order to fully grasp them, and that’s okay too. The problem isn’t really with them, it’s with me. I need to develop the virtue of conversational patience. [Emphases in original.]

He explains why this makes such a difference in the rest of his post.