Leadership

This simple speaking trick can make you more influential at work

'The Meeting' Episode 602 -- Pictured: (l-r) John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Steve Carell as Michael Scott.
Trae Patton | NBC
'The Meeting' Episode 602 -- Pictured: (l-r) John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Steve Carell as Michael Scott.

If you've ever been interrupted at work, you know how frustrating it can be.

And if you've been the culprit, it could hurt your reputation over time, says career expert Jeff Black.

"We are constantly on the move today," Black says. "We walk too fast. We talk too fast. We cut people off in meetings before they have really finished. We start answering questions before someone even finished asking the question."

The problem? "When we do all of that, we look incredibly rushed," he says. "We look frantic. We look like everything is a crisis."

Black, the founder of leadership development company Black Sheep, recommends adopting a simple trick to slow down and become a more effective communicator: Pause before you speak.

Taking a two-second pause can make you more approachable, he says, since preventing others from finishing their thoughts typically comes off as abrasive.

When you consciously slow down your actions and speech in the office, you seem more comfortable and have more time to think through your next move.

It "changes everything," Black tells CNBC Make It. "They are so used to chaotic, and now they see calm and confident."

An important caveat: You shouldn't slow down to the point of being monotone and boring, he warns, but you should think before you speak.

Taking a pause helps you to be more thoughtful and engaged, he says, which is especially important if you are leading a team.

"Part of being a good leader is knowing when to be quiet and listen," Black says. "Even if you have made your decision and they are presenting the different strategies, you should have the respect for your team to be quiet."

When you listen and take a beat before responding, you appear more open-minded and measured, which in turn makes people more likely to listen to what you have to say.

"You come across as a better participant because, in a way, you're saying this isn't all about me," Black says. "There's great value in silence."

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