Leadership Training: The 5 Second Breath

Troy is one of the most energetic, funny and charismatic leaders in the company. When someone needs help it is there immediately. When someone has an idea Troy is there with suggestions. When someone feels frustrated, well, you guessed it, Troy has the words that work.


Troy was not always a hero. Everyone used to steer clear of Troy. And Troy had no idea why.

You see, Troy was trigger happy; with his mouth, that is.

You know the type. Male or female most co-workers wanted to say “ZIP IT!”

When it came to conflict solutions Troy jumped in to resolve the conflict and would not, no, not ever let there be even a few seconds of silence. When it came to brainstorming he was always first with ideas and then he kept putting in the most suggestions, non-stop.

Troy was like a fire hydrant released in the workplace; spewing in every direction and not caring who or what got wet. He meant well, so everyone just walked away with a shrug.


His chatter limited real dialogue. His obsession with talking shut down any real give and take, and that is what dialogue is all about. It is a form of talking that requires moments, pockets of silence for information and ideas to be absorbed.

And Troy finally began to wonder what he was doing to alienate people. He asked for a coach. Quickly I was able to point out his constant babbling. He assured me he had never been aware of it. After a paragraph of Troy explaining why he felt so compelled to talk so much I simply said “STOP.”



It’s so simple. And it works. Simply take a breath and count to 5 before you spill out your pearls of wisdom, or respond to a comment, or defend a position.


Use it everywhere: with your boss, co-workers, with your partner, with your kids. And it saves lots of unnecessary clean up time with having to apologize for blurting out something profane or mean spirited.

Look, we all have inner thoughts best left inside. We all have knee-jerk responses that are childish and inappropriate. Many, like Troy yearn to be the center of attention all the time because of childhood wounds.


When you have a performance review, when diversity concerns show up, when you feel discounted, when you win an award, when you want to make an important point.


He is now a mentor to the new hires. He teaches them to use the 5 second breath and what magic can happen when you put the pause button on.

Don’t take Troy’s word for it, or my word for it. Give it a go and let me know what is different in your communication when you take that 5 second breath.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options