Delivering keynotes, workshops, lectures, training and coaching to help people skillfully access courage in the face of conflict.

Log in

Pausing and Timing

Wednesday, January 31, 2024 7:00 AM | André Salvage (Administrator)

Before I’m introduced on stage for a lecture or workshop, I provide a written bio to the host. This bio excludes being a Master of martial arts or Kung Fu San Soo. I omit that once important detail because nowadays, being a martial arts master doesn’t carry the prestige it held a while ago.

I’m old enough to use the words “in my day,” so I will.

In my day, learning martial arts was not solely for fighting—it was life training.

Classic martial arts training balanced philosophy, compassion, health, empowerment, and courage. A byproduct of those teachings was that you learned how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

Every martial arts teacher I ever had, including my first San Soo instructors Sharon and Larry Wikel taught that balance and encouraged their students to embrace the extreme parts of themselves, from the compassionate loving part to the part that can be dangerous. We were taught how to access those extremes while living in peace, objectivity, and balance.

Nowadays, martial arts is uber-martial and all about the fight, the competition, and the winning, paralleling the way we communicate.

We no longer communicate with the intention to connect but with the intention to dominate, debate, control, conquer, and win.

One of the main reasons why companies ask me to work with them is because we have lost the ability to communicate with the intention to connect.

Most of our interactions—business and personal— are a microcosm of our society and the world’s prevalent way of being.  

  • Right now, we don’t listen to one another.
  • We shut down anyone who has different opinions.
  • We are opportunists and take advantage of others’ weaknesses and actions.
  • We’re very fragile and self-righteous.
  • We take any idea that perpetuates growth and awareness, beat it down, and demonize it until it loses its original positive meaning.

People who read that I am a martial artist assume I subscribe to one of the prevalent extremes.

They see me as either a new age, magical thinking, fake wanna-be monk (a fellow martial artist called me that once…only once) who uses his chi and mind to defeat his opponents or as some competitive, angry, ex-gang member street fighter who could not possibly understand the corporate world.

A CEO told me, “I think you’ll be a good fit for our staff because the majority of them have your background, similar life experiences, and they seem to have the most problems…the C-suites are fine.”

This elitist thinking just added to their problems—Especially when I shared with the staff how to objectively speak to narcissistic power without becoming what you hate.

Once I removed the master of martial arts and “former street fighter” from my bio, I was hired to work with everyone in the company. I also began refusing to work with any organization that only wanted to send their “support staff” to the classes—it was everyone or no one at all.

To many companies’ credit, they see the value of everyone learning the same skills, and those companies see the changes they desire. ­

What companies don’t realize is that many of the principles I teach to help them resolve conflicts with each other and their clients—the importance of communicating with the intention to connect, trusting your intuition, bringing present-moment awareness to how we listen and speak to each other—originate from the philosophies and teachings of martial arts.

For some teams, as an icebreaker, I have them practice sticky hands to help them realize and feel the moment when they stop connecting and start competing because that’s the moment of conflict.

All that leads up to say that today’s discussion point comes from the art of listening and authentic expression.

Saying how you feel or expressing yourself is not easy. One tool that helps is the ability to pause.

Too often, we get pulled into believing that we have to immediately respond to what people say to us when, in truth, it is better to pause, breathe, and relax your shoulders before you say anything.

Pausing is not easy if you’re in a debate or you’re dealing with somebody who has mouth diarrhea and feels they have to fill silence with noise. But even that can be neutralized by asking that person for a moment before you talk.

Because we equate silence with confusion or not knowing, we feel we must respond immediately when in conversation. However, a slight pause allows you to absorb what the speaker just said and not respond from any protective parts or filters. Try it today, right before it’s your turn to speak. Take a moment, take a breath, take a pause, and afterward, notice your tone and the outcome of the conversation.

In martial arts, the pause is equal to the timing and you being in the same rhythm as the confrontation. Often, we rush to respond when we need to recognize the rhythm, the timing, and the flow—and that momentary pause helps. Timing is everything when it comes to movement and communication. The pause helps you to be in that moment and to control the flow.

Try it…take a pause…take a breath...then speak.

©André Salvage 1979-2024. All rights reserved.


Keese Coaching and Consulting
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software