Stop. Unplug yourself.

When stuck in a difficult conversation, a meeting that is going nowhere or when you’re making no headway on the work that is to be done: give yourself a time-out. Unplug for a minute and breathe.

Peter Bregman‘s wireless Internet connection had stopped working. He cursed at it for some time, rebooted it, played with the settings but nothing worked. While he was ready to admit defeat, he remembered the solution that had worked for him before, when all else failed. Peter unplugged everything and waited one minute.

In another situation, Peter had a difficult conversation over the phone with his wife who was traveling. Both had the feeling that the other wasn’t listening. Then the call was dropped. Both tried calling each other back but only got voicemail. So they sat there for a minute, each of them in their respective places. Unplugged.

Both situations remind me of myself at times when I’m stuck. When I’m angry or stuck in my work duties, I unplug to disengage. Getting some fresh air very often does it for me. Disconnect, get a new perspective, and move forward.

In Peter’s first example, when he pugged back his wireless router after one minute of waiting, it started working again. In the phone call with his wife, when they eventually connected again, the tone of the conversation changed radically. They were softer to each other. More attentive.

What does this mean? “Sometimes, life requires active, willful engagement. But sometimes, the smartest move is disengagement. That magic minute of doing nothing anything has the power to change just about everything.”

Read the full HBR post here.

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