Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule
by David Klemt
Those who remember last week’s Friday post will recall that there’s more than one 10-second rule.
Interestingly, this “other” rule also relates to communication.
As we all know, communication is paramount to leading teams and building relationships with others.
Last Week’s Rule
Deceptively simple, last week’s 10-second rule focuses on easing tensions.
If a situation is about to boil over or is already out of control, going silent for 10 seconds can cool things off.
First, shutting up for ten seconds stops the argument cold. Second, it provides time for the person leveraging this tactic to respond rationally.
Third, it humanizes the other person. Rather than seeing an opponent, the person going quiet for ten seconds remembers that this is a team member they’re engaging.
Finally, people who use this rule say going silent tends to snap the other party out of their hostility.
Treating others with respect and dignity, along with encouraging open communication and a free flow of ideas, are hallmarks of a healthy workplace culture.
This Week’s Rule
There are, of course, similarities between this week’s rule and last week’s. Obviously, they both call for a ten-second “timeout” to talking.
Also, they both focus on humanizing the other person in the conversation.
I came across the other 10-second rule on the Accounting Today website. Accountant and author Kyle Walters writes that his rule is also simple: If Walters talks for ten consecutive seconds during a client meeting, he stops to ask an open-ended question. Crucial to the process is that Walters then gives the person answering time to talk.
Now, while Walters applies this to client meetings, it’s useful for conversation in general. As he points out, it breaks the bad habits of dominating conversations; giving off the impression that you’re selfish and don’t care about the others in conversations; and not listening to others.
Anyone who leads a team; needs to develop relationships with suppliers, distributors, contractors, investors, banks, inspectors, etc.; and wants to build relationships with guests knows that listening is crucial.
Sure, ten seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time. However, take the time to actually see how many thoughts you can fire off in ten seconds. You’ll see how much talking for that “small” amount of time can quickly seem domineering if you don’t stop to include others in the conversation.
There’s also the “small” detail that you’re not having a conversation if you’re not listening—you’re just delivering a speech…and it’s probably not a good one.
It takes work to break bad habits. However, the benefit to your personal growth, leadership abilities, and business are worth the effort.