FAQ – The power of pausing

being responsive, not reactive

We’re all guilty of it… Something happens, we have an emotional reaction, and we act. Maybe someone says something that riles us and we get cross.

Maybe a client makes a change that throws our plans and we’re irritated. Maybe we’ve priced for a job, and when we go to buy the materials they’ve gone up in price.

It’s natural and normal to get an emotional reaction, but acting on that right away often isn’t the best way to deal with a situation. It’s usually a good idea to pause, even just for a few moments (or longer if we need to) take our emotions out of the situation, look objectively at it and then respond. The benefits of pausing are not only practical, but can make a significant difference to our mental health. 

Count to ten

We all know the old adage of ‘count to 10’ when we get angry, and it’s good advice. That pause allows us to think about consequences, about the reality of a situation, and hopefully, how to respond to it to get the best outcome. 

A great example of this is road rage. Lots of people get annoyed at other road users’ behaviour. A couple of months ago at a roundabout a driver mounted a grass verge and came into my carriageway, crashing into the side of my car. Luckily nobody was injured, but my car was a right-off.

I could have got angry, or upset. But that wouldn’t have helped anyone. Instead I rang the police, and made sure the other driver and passenger were okay. The other driver was so upset at his mistake I ended up giving him a hug. The police were great, and I was grateful for their measured and calm response. The incident even ended up in the local paper as something positive!

Pausing to reduce stress

A friend was telling me about how she used to react to situations quite quickly and emotionally, like many of us do. But now, instead of just thinking about the immediate consequences on herself, she now takes a mental step back.
So when a colleague gave her some constructive criticism at work, she had that immediate emotional reaction, but took a breath, saw that the colleague was not only right but being helpful, and she smiled and thanked him. She’s said that doing this on a regular basis means she’s happier at work, and feels a lot less stressed. 

Better Business Decisions

In our own businesses, stuff doesn’t go to plan all the time. We’re doing an exterior and it rains. Sometimes we feel like ranting at the clouds and just buggering off home. In winter, paint or filler can take an age to dry on some walls. 

So often when we’re busy we can just crack on, ‘no time for thinking, just crack on, haven’t got time to pause’. But pausing, especially over a cuppa, and thinking about where we’re at and how to respond to situations is almost always a good thing. It makes us consider the consequences of our actions.

Pausing allows us to plan. Some say that 10 minutes of planning can help save an hour a day of wasted time. So pause, and check the weather forecasts. Plan in other tasks. Make less hasty and more measured decisions, it’s good for business. 

Better client relationships

Clients always appreciate decorators who listen to their needs and respond thoughtfully. Pausing and responding allows us to communicate more effectively, as we have time to consider what people have said, and what the best solutions might be. This builds trust and makes for better long-term relationships, leading to repeat business and a solid reputation. 


Pausing and thinking how lucky we really are is a brilliant thing to do in business, and in life. I was given some pretty bland food at an event I went to recently. I could have been annoyed at it, and grumbled, being in a bad mood about it, colouring the rest of the event. Instead I thought how grateful I was to have that food, that the food was actually fine, and I could enjoy the rest of the event without feeling hungry. Thinking about what we have got, instead of what we haven’t is one of the secrets to a more contented life. 

That’s life

There’s a lot to be said for a Gallic shrug and an utterance of ‘c’est la vie’ – ‘that’s life’. Sh*t happens, and sometimes hits the fan. But pausing, reframing, feeling grateful for what we have and responding to situations will always be a better approach than an emotional knee-jerk reaction. 

Pausing can help us to be calmer, more considered, make better decisions, feel happier, and do a better job. 

Don’t be a knee-jerker, pause, and be a responder.