• Scott McInnes

68 | Take a breath

Just before Christmas I saw this campaign for the JAM card on my morning commute. According to the poster, “it’s a card that lets people with a learning disability, autism or a communication barrier ask for just a minute of patience when they need it.”

What a great idea I thought.

But then, very quickly after I had a follow-up thought - what a sad indictment on our society that someone who needs a minute should have to carry a card to request it from people.

It’s no surprise to anyone that we’re all running at 100 miles an hour - busy, busy, busy in work and at home.

And as a result it can often be hard to give people the time they need - this writer is no angel in that regard by the way.

Whether someone has a learning difficulty or not, I wonder if the right thing to do is to just take a minute for anyone - to listen and to understand. Of course, this is as relevant in a work setting as anywhere else.

So what are some of the things you can do to change?

Stop and take a breath Simple right!

But when you’ve 100 things to do, meetings to get to, and a train to catch so you can do the football/scouts/swim run, that can be hard to do

But it’s really worth taking the time. Taking a deep breath gives you a minute to stop and think instead of reacting. And that minute of thinking could mean the difference between the right or maybe 'not-so-right' reaction.

Reframe A few years ago a good friend of mine, Shane Barry, taught me about reframing. For me, it’s about looking at a situation and wondering why else it might be happening Your immediate reaction can often be incorrect - a knee jerk based on gut feel and previous experience.

It’s about not taking a situation on immediate face value. But it definitely works, stops me getting wound up and makes me look at tings from different angles. That said, I can attest to the fact that it takes a bit of practice.


By listening, we understand. It also provides that minute that someone needs, gives you some information to help shape your response, and gives the person a chance to speak. Often, that’s all that was needed - they just wanted a chance to be heard.

So don’t jump to solution mode (yep, hand up again!) based on what you think they need - spend a few minutes listening to what they actually need or want

Self-awareness is key In order to change how and when you react, you need to be more consciously self-aware. Self-awareness helps you to understand where you could have done things differently and, over time, makes you stop yourself BEFORE you get yourself into a situation.

Self-awareness is that little voice that says ‘Wait a minute. This is one of 'those' times and we need to try doing things a bit differently’

So I challenge you this week to take 5 or 10 minutes out of your busy lives to think about some of this - to pause, listen and understand before reacting.

And I’ll do the same.

Have a good week.

©2020 Inspiring Change Ltd, The Tara Building, Tara Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

e: hello@inspiringchange.ie