Avoid Mistakes With A Calculated Pause

Gmail gives you five seconds to unsend an email. Unfortunately in real life, you can’t hit the undo button once you’ve verbalized your feelings. The key then, according to Harvard Business Blog, is to know how to prevent the damaging message to begin with.

Photo by Clearly Ambiguous.

In order to prevent small and big gaffes alike, Harvard Business blogger Peter Bregman says to give yourself a mental “pause”, then move forward with your desired course of action. His advice is by no means novel—the adage “think before you speak” comes to mind—but in a world of instant online communications, it’s important to remember that the real world doesn’t offer the same undo functions as some of our online interactions.

It turns out while there’s a war going on between you and someone else, there’s another war going on, in your brain, between you and yourself. And that quiet little battle is your prefrontal cortex trying to subdue your amygdala.

Peter argues that it’s best to stop the action for a few seconds (two is enough) and catch your breath before proceeding. This should be enough to “give the prefrontal cortex time to control the emotional response”.

Check out the full article for all the details, then hit up our previous post on how to use your handshake to effectively communicate your message.

Undo Send in Real Life [Harvard Business Blog]


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