Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Calling for a pause

We humans like to think of ourselves as rational, but when our emotions ramp up, like when we get in an argument, the centers of our rational thinking in our brains start to shut down.

If you’ve ever thought after an argument, “I wish I didn’t say that,” then that’s probably what happened. Once our emotions start to take over it can be hard to think straight, and we do or say things that aren’t really “who we are.”

The best way to avoid this is to call for a pause, or a “time out,” when you notice things getting too heated. To stop talking, and take a few deep breaths together. To hold silence and just feel the physical sensation of your breath, your feet, and your body.

After a few minutes of pause, try talking again. Pay extra attention to listening to the other person, and listening to yourself so you can both stay more aware of what is going on emotionally, as well as what you’re saying.

This isn’t about avoiding conflict or not having difficult conversations. This is about allowing our emotions to settle a bit until we can listen to the other person, and have the presence of mind to notice what we really feel.

Conflicts and difficult conversations can strengthen relationships, rather than damage them, if we create enough space and bring kind attention to ourselves and the other person. All it takes is a moment of pause.

7 June 2022

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