"Respect the Pause"


SHARE (Something you can use)

Welcome to the quarterly SHARE-TRUTH-DARE “UseLetter” #4!

This is a late Q1 offering…so late that the seasons have changed, and we are actually in the throws of spring.  Do you sometimes blink, and time has disappeared? Yup, that’s 2023 for me too.

So, I’d like to slow us down a bit – actually – let’s do it right now.  Flip your phone over (unless you’re using it to read this!) Close the 15+ windows open on your laptop, put your feet down on the ground and literally STOP.

I want you to immerse yourself in your environment. What do you see? Smell? Hear? Taste?  Maybe try doing it with your eyes closed.  Take 5 deep breaths. 
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5.

How was that? Did you actually do it? Was it easy? Weird? Hard?

Being “present” is a core request I have at the beginning of any gathering Forwardworking is leading.  “Presence” is also one of the five conditions we deep dive into in our HandsDown Team Assessment©. 

Oh the reasons are endless. It is respectful of others and it is respectful of ourselves. It enables a noticing to happen.  It is an active state that gifts you a unique lens and experience.  It helps you be actively involved and aware of the world you are part of and not have it pass you by.  

When we consider our professional environments, creating space to be present is an untapped and under-utilized tool to build better relationships, connections, innovations, and all things meant to grow.  Not sure? Ask yourself if you truly believe your non-stop go-go-go routines are truly serving you, your team, and your organization? 


Here’s the truth. To be present is to know how to pause everything else that is trying to steal you away.  Many of us are not good at the “pause”.  It can feel unproductive and, in our workplaces, can create a sense of unease as we worry about being “caught”. Why is that?

We have been indoctrinated to value “doing” and especially being seen as “doing”. This was the reality before the pandemic and, albeit cloaked differently, remains the reality now for many.

People share with us that they desire the pause, long to have a moment to slow down and focus, zoom in/or out of their environment with intention.  But our workplace cultures have practiced agendas and timelines and deadlines and production quotas and sales targets and program growth expectations and customer satisfaction metrics. 

Sure, these are needed, but where is the space for a little space? 


A simple practice that you can include in gatherings is the power of a really good check-in question.  If you already do this – please don’t stop.  If you did, but it flopped – please try again.  And, if you’ve never done this and think it seems “silly” or a “waste of time” – oh I’m excited for you!

Here’s how we do it in our gatherings. 

  1. Lob it: When people come into the space (online or in person) we have the check in question up on a screen (or flipchart).  You can also print them out and have them on tables or embedded right into agendas.  The purpose is to immediately invite everyone to come from wherever they’ve been and unite around a joint question and slow things down.
  2. Invite it: Choose a question that offers a range of responses and gives freedom for the truth to be told without people feeling the need to reveal their souls.
  3. Solicit it: If leading the meeting/workshop/session, your job is to solicit responses and acknowledge contributions by thanking people for sharing.  We never make anyone “right or wrong”, we don’t need to one up anyone and certainly let people pass if the question doesn’t spark them.
  4. Pause it: Once everyone has shared, take a moment to PAUSE and ask the group to reflect on what’s been offered.  Sit with in. Create space for the sake of space.
  5. Mine it: To close off the check-in, ask the group what insights/themes/new information is available. Again, everything shared is subjectively true for them and useful for all of us to reflect on.
  6. Link it: Look for ways throughout the rest of the gathering to link/loop back.  There are often beautiful connections to a seemingly unconnected check-in question in the deep throws of agenda items.

How long does this need?
Depending on your question and method of collecting people’s thoughts (via chat online, verbal, body cues like thumbs up/down), this can be an opening activity needing only 10 minutes, or a critical warm up that deserves more time.   There’s always a sweet spot for check-in questions and the trick is bringing people in, letting “it” simmer, then bridging the gap to what now?

Check-in questions can be linked to times of the year and the environments we are all in, but likely experienced differently. Here are some suggested “spring-inspired” questions:

  1. On your way here today, what signs of spring did you experience (see/smell/touch etc.)?
  2. What does “spring” mean to you?
  3. How does this time of year impact you?
  4. If you were a sign of spring, what would you want to be and why?
  5. What is spring a metaphor for?
  6. What’s your favourite spring meal?

Remember, this not meant to feel “productive”.  Its purpose is to slow us down a bit, give a chance to share something that otherwise wouldn’t be solicited, it is about the intentional p-a-u-s-e and then seeing what springs (yes, I just did that) up.  It is about being connected through practicing being present.

As always, these are doable dares and if you take me up on this – I’d love to hear about your experience. Simply be in touch with me here. (


Who are we and what do we do?

Forwardworking is centered on realizing and implementing the possibilities of Respect in our workplaces.

We partner with who we call “a new kind of Leader” – those willing to sign up, not sign off. We work together with our clients to shape a workplace culture where respect and human rights are embedded intentionally and permanently.

We give targeted support to align behaviours, practices, and systems to maximize critical organizational relationships.  Our advisory and consulting services have been leveraged in conferences, workshops, retreats, professional development, EDI alignment, policy rebuilds/rollouts, conflict resolution and team coaching.  We are known for our innovative ways to bring people together to achieve something different than before.

We love what we do and believe that it matters.

Reach out anytime if what we do may be able to help you get to were you’re trying to go.