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10 Second Rule

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

The ten second rule

When does this apply?

Well, it applies during a heated conversation. No matter where you are or the situation you are in; at home, at work or any place you can think of when you feel you need to take a breath. Yep, even down the pub after a few drinks or over that special dinner you have been looking forward to where you can discuss ‘important stuff’ You know those conversations we may overhear when the voice next door is rising and not with laughter. This is when one would take those 10 seconds to breath before you respond. Pause for 10 seconds before you respond. BREATH, WAIT and RESPOND.

Easy! Well not always. As the ego may kick in and the need to complete the conversation with a trumped-up view of what one feels is right and is dying to purge out of the mouth with nastiness, words, and emotions that are not easily taken back. Do you know that feeling?

Why does the ten second rule work, just breath?

1. It lowers the hormone called cortisol. Cortisol contributes to your stress level, and we do not want that rising do we.

2. It allows us to take a breath, breath in and breath out. This will give you time to rethink what is going to come out of your mouth.

3. The final delivery of what you say will be kinder and that is what we aim for in life, to be kind.

In doing the above it gives time to consider the person on the other side of the conversation and process what they have said. In every situation when a conversation is getting out of hand, this rule helps to diffuse the emotions and will give you time to refocus on the purpose of the conversation.

You will be surprised how much time 10 seconds really is in terms of giving you a chance to collect your emotions and your thoughts. If you mediate daily, you will understand the importance of breathing. The ten second rule diverts you from a possible crazy cycle of yelling, saying crappy things and the most important thing, destroying a relationship. Who really wants to do that!

A couple of keys takeaways to this rule that I believe in.

The most obvious takeaway to me is that these 10 seconds gives me space to lower the heat of the conversation.

The more important takeaway is that I need to be able to recognize when the temperature is high and that my emotional response is not going to help the conversation.(EI) Emotional intelligence simply gives me the ability to understand my own emotional response. Therefore, emotional intelligence is so important. In fact, emotional intelligence is simply the ability to understand one’s own emotional response to something and, therefore, decide how you are going to respond.

EI leaders, have the self-awareness to recognize when the crazy cycle starts and will give themselves permission to pause.

So, what is the goal? Is it to win all conversations we have no matter the delivery? I do not feel it ought to be a win at any cost. The goal I think is to add value to the relationship and to the conversation. There is not much chance of doing that when one is angry or frustrated, and let us also put into this equation, being tired and over a day that could have been filled with many challenges.

The 10-second rule is valuable, not because it helps you to improve your conversations, but because it helps you improve your relationships. Quiet simply it is an investment into any relationship and yourself.

I know I rabbit on about’ listening’ and to ‘hear ‘ in some of my limited blogs but when you are a coach, to listen and to hear what is being said is vital, and not only a coach but as everyday people going through life.

And speaking of ‘Rabbit’…. I would like to say Gong Xi Fa Cai to my Chinese friends, my Chinese business partners and to my wonderful clients.


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