Might you have been uncomfortable with their silence?
So what did you do?
The average person waits only 2-3 seconds before rephrasing the question or answering the question themselves or just moving on. And strange as it may sound the average person has no idea that they do this!
How about you? Confronted with silence have you too quickly re-asked the question? Or restated the question in another way? Or maybe asked a second or even third question hoping they would respond?
Ask your question and then give the person the gift of silence. Give the person time to think and formulate their response. Be still. Focus your kind attention on them, relax and wait.
The good news is that they will answer and often the longer the silence the more thoughtful the response will be!
If you were asked “What steps could you take in the next month to become a better leader?” would you be able to start answering in 2-3 seconds? Or might you appreciate some silence to craft your response? What would happen if after 2-3 seconds the one who asked you the question began to restate their question? Or asked another question? Would that be helpful? Or would you prefer for them to remain silent to give you time to think? I am guessing the later! So if you would appreciate some silence to thoughtfully respond to a great question, what might those you ask great questions of also appreciate?
Don’t waste a Great Question by jumping on their silence with your words preventing them from having the time they need to thoughtfully respond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Tiede has been on the staff of Cru for 45 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 6 remarkable grandchildren. His book Great Leaders Ask Questions is available via his website. Bob shares his blog posts on leadership as well as curates articles from other leading thinkers here as well via his website: http://leadingwithquestions.com/.