05/02/2014 03:09 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

The Art of Pausing in Conversation: Your Weekly Wake-Up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

Wise men speak because they have something to say;
fools because they have to say something.
-- Plato

Communication is like music. Sing "and she's buying the stairway to heaven" to yourself without any pause whatsoever between the words. Now try it again with pauses the way Led Zeppelin sings it: "And... she's... buy... ing.... the....stair... way... to... heaven."

Just as music does not sound mellifluous without pauses between the notes, conversation without short periods of silence for reflection becomes stressful, anxiety-provoking, and meaningless.

The ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras said, "Silence is better than unmeaning words." Do you sometimes say things you later regret when you 'fill the gap' during a lull in the conversation with words that are long on syllables but short on meaning?

This week, make an effort to allow yourself to sit with the natural pauses in conversation without feeling awkward. The more you develop this ethereal skill and let go of the need you may have to always either direct the conversation or have the perfect response to any question you might be asked, the more naturally the conversation will flow.

Pauses in conversation during which you think calmly and confidently about what you want to say next are like the brief moments of silence between notes: without them you create noise, not music.