68 | Take a breath

January 14, 2020


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. 


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. 

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