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I told myself I wasn’t going to watch the George Zimmerman trial. Would not squander my time and get sucked in.

Yeah, right. Thursday evening I surrendered.

In the end he did not prevail – but boy, I was riveted by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda’s performance. Lawyerly showmanship at its best. Big, bold, brassy.

What struck me most, however, was not so much what de la Rionda said. It was the lavish pauses he took. They allowed what he said to simmer and settle. The pauses allowed me – his audience – to absorb and clarify my own meaning. The pauses carried weight. They crackled with energy.

I also think of a conversation I had last week. I will connect it to Mr. de la Rionda in a moment. Promise.

Ted Coiné, co-conspirator of the marvelous Switch and Shift thought community, and I spent 30 minutes in a Google hang-out chat, plumbing our beliefs on personal leadership (if you have never clicked onto Switch and Shift, do so at once; you will be enthralled by its laser focus on the human side of business; www.switchandshift.com).

There were no lavish pauses in this conversation. We hurled ideas back and forth at a furious pace. Words tumbled all over each other. Fast. The thrill of the conversation came from the instant idea pick-up. The energy rush of a mental leap. The synergistic meaning-making.

When I think of these two seemingly incongruous events, I think of the dynamics of every single conversation we have. A pause is a key beat in the energy dynamics of a social exchange. So is the quick pick-up. Each advances the energy of a conversation in a different way:

  • The Pause: In silence, I absorb what I have heard. I connect with hidden layers of personal memory. I hear the emotional echoes inside me. I form my story of what it all means. Yes – I activate loads of energy.
  • The Pick-Up: In the pick-up, I respond in speed to an external stimulus. My response accelerates the mental velocity of the conversation. The speed of the response heightens my emotional engagement. It also invokes the emotions of my conversation partner. Yes – I activate loads of energy.

Both pause and pick-up are essential conversation-energy-movers. Go and have energetic conversations. Use both. Use them well.

This week, notice your pauses and your pick-ups. If you tend to pause little, stop more often. Elongate the pauses.

If you tend to carefully consider your responses before you speak, toy with quicker pick-ups. Accelerate. Any deviation from your habitual conversation-energy-dynamic will energize your conversations in unexpected ways.