This weekend was a family weekend. My brother was in from San Francisco and my husband’s daughter and our grandson (11 years old) were in from Boston. We had a lively dinner on Saturday that included my father and my son.

On Sunday morning, my grandson asked “Mimi, is Bob (my father) my great grandfather?” I stopped to think about how to respond, letting some silence emerge. Before I could speak, he said “Because ‘technically’ he is my great grandfather.” He is such a dear person, so sincere and loving. I was very grateful that I didn’t insert my own “technically, not really.”  I also heard the message that he truly thinks of me as one of three grandmothers; and, my father will be thrilled to have new great grandchildren.

So, what’s this got to do with work? The experience made me think of how often I might jump to answer a question before allowing the answer from the person speaking. Or, asking “what do you think?” As I reflected, my hunch is that when I have more experience or expertise, I am more likely to assert my answer. If I had answered my grandson, I might have stifled a beautiful new relationship.

When and with whom should you allow more silence in your dialogue?