Steve Kaplan's Blog

May 27, 2011

The Ten Second-Rule

Filed under: Tips — stevekaplan @ 1:16 pm

…Not just a food-safety strategy, but a way to keep your cool.

Make it a practice to pause for ten long seconds before you react to new information, whether positive or negative- employee complaints, unhappy clients, potential big contracts, or anything else.  This grace period helps ensure that your responses are well considered.  It also trickles down to the employee, who may emulate your behavior and respect you for assessing the news carefully rather than flying off the handle.

Not long ago I was sitting in my office after a three-hour client negotiation, my head threatening to explode and my patience worn thin enough to see through. Suddenly, an employee burst in to announce that she had a brilliant idea: Turn off all the office lights for 15 minutes twice a day. She thought it would be a great way to relieve stress; I thought it was a great way to make us the laughingstock of the industry.  Still, I resisted the urge to reject her idea as ludicrous, and, most likely, offend her in the process.  Instead, I left the room to compose myself- for a whole series of ten-second pauses. When I returned, she proceeded to elaborate on the theory behind the lights-out proposal, I politely suggested that as intriguing as her idea might be, we just couldn’t risk losing thirty minutes of productivity a day, especially since we were growing like crazy and could barely handle things in the time available. Rather than leaving in a huff feeling berated or belittled, she saw my point and left feeling good about herself and  her role in the company. She also appreciated having face time with the person in charge.

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