Fermata

When we’re really trying hard to ask a great question that will open up miles of possibilities, we take a stab at it when there’s a three second pause. We’re so eager! But leaving the pause intact can be a lot like observing the “rest” or fermata in music. If you don’t endure the suspense, you kill the moment. But if you can endure …

Often times the best stuff someone has to say is after you’ve avoided finishing their sentence, avoided putting a question mark in the middle of their fermata, after you’ve waited what seems an eternity but is probably only 30 seconds – that’s six or seven breaths for most of us – and the gold mine appears. Whatever it is (that really important thing) that someone is trying to say is said after the pause.

If you want to try it, next time someone is having trouble finishing their phrase, try exhaling regularly six times. (Don’t ‘count to ten’ or you’ll be rushing like a sixth-grade snare drum player).