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Be quiet - before going to your gut

🤐 Just zip it. Be quiet. Zoom out. Pause. In diplomacy it can be a shrewd way of obtaining information. In psychotherapy it can allow for reflection. And in culture and diversity it can help you get wiser on what is going on in the moment - before you go to your gut.

A former diplomatic colleague, an ambassador taught me the usefulness of just zipping it. Letting the other person talk.

For this particular ambassador, the usefulness stemmed from the fact that his quiet would make the other person blabber on. Information could be gathered for later use.

I got his silent treatment from time to time and found it to be very effective 🤨

But also in psychotherapy silence is needed albeit with a slightly different tone. It is used to let your client feel the salience of what they (or you) just said. Does it ring true? Does it feel right in your body or was it your mind running literally ahead?

In culture and diversity, silence can be used for your own sake. To slow down in order to get insights needed to navigate in difficult waters - before you go to your gut.

This may be surprising as we are often told that we should rely on our gut when meeting new people. But in matters of culture and diversity the gut is not necessarily your friend. Your gut draws on the oldest part of your brain, thinking in contrasts, threats, escape. You are better served drawing on your cognition, your younger brain, when judging a situation that is culturally different, maybe even very challenging.

In that situation a pause can be useful - as a prerequisite for you to acknowledge that you are being challenged. "My new team member just humiliated me in front of my team. I feel angry. But let me think. I wonder if he misunderstood me when I asked for feedback?"

It sounds easy, right? And is really very challenging. It requires a level of self reflection that is difficult to obtain let alone display during busy days filled with a myriad of challenges - cultural differences just being one of them. But just being aware of the usefulness of being quiet for a second may be helpful next time. Taking a breath before going to your gut.

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