Wait…don’t tell me

Post date: December 13, 2017 by Grace Bourke

This crossing sign visualizes the concept of pausing before moving forward together, just like the request to “wait…don’t tell me.” I experienced this pausing before moving forward when helping a 9-year old with her third grade reading homework. She was struggling and asked me to tell her the words she didn’t know. After doing that a few times, I realized that when I gave her the answer, she didn’t recognize the word the next time she saw it. So, I slowed down. When she didn’t know a word, we paused and she sounded it out – she began to recognize these words the next time they appeared. Several pages later, she was reading with confidence and asked “Wait…don’t tell me,” so she could have a longer pause.

This isn’t a lesson on learning to read. It’s a small example supporting a learner by pausing. In the short time we worked on her reading homework, this little girl improved to a point where she could read many new words.

Recently, a team lead of a kaizen workshop was talking about root cause analysis with the example of 5 whys applied to the Jefferson Memorial. The lean coach intentionally paused, giving the team time to think it through. With several people contributing the part they remembered, they remembered the key points of the example. The pause gave the team the opportunity to realize what they knew. This support for their learning was more impactful than if the coach had quickly jumped in with the answer.

As a coach, I’m learning to pay attention to where a learner is in her thought process and slow down to give her time to think. I want to be open to hearing the audible or implied request of “wait…don’t tell me” so that we can move forward together.