Why you should always wait 10 seconds to respond during an intense conversation

Originally published at: Why you should always wait 10 seconds to respond during an intense conversation | Boing Boing


What, and miss my chance at putting my foot in my mouth, that’s just crazy.


That just leads to, “what, aren’t you going to say anything??”


I presume one leans in and stares creepily while the ten seconds tick by.


In a society that values loud-mouthed extroverts who talk more than listen, silence is an under-rated tool in the conversational kit. Here’s another example:


What facial expression or contemplative body posture should one best assume during which the three others have concluded the matter by dint of having tossed their blancmange at each other? (“I go with the gaped mouthed look of befuddled consternation m’self”)


Is this something Discourse will be adding? I know there is a “slow” mode for heated threads. Is there a more general “you have to wait until at least 10 seconds after a comment before you can open a reply window to compose a rsponse” mode?

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That would be great for Twitter too, with the added winkle that you have to wait ten seconds after any reply in a thread, leading to a longer and longer queue of people waiting to add their ten cents, and slowly realizing that what they have to add isn’t all that important after all.

(For serious, it’s been a real shift for me on forums to stop and think “is this really adding anything useful?” It stops a lot of posts that, after I’ve written them out, I realize aren’t saying anything beyond what others have already said.)


I’m waiting 10 seconds right now!


I have been trying to think more about whether I really need to say something. I’ve been aided in this by someone I follow on FB who openly says that what he posts isn’t up for debate and that he will trebuchet who don’t follow this rule. It rubs me a bit wrong when he says that, because sometimes he is objectively and demonstrably wrong. But it’s also his virtual living room not mine. Plus I do respect him and if I want to continue to be able to comment there with other folks I have to resist my reflexive urge to debate. It’s been more of a challenge than it should be.

I’d say that it’s good that FB lets you delete posts entirely, without shame. I’m not sure if the 24 lingering post of shame when you delete a post on Discourse is a good idea or not, but I assume there is some history for why letting people instantly memory hole their posts without a trace was a problem.

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I dunno. This could work. On the other hand I could imagine responding to belligerent speech (e.g. a Trumpist spouting nonsense around the water cooler) with ten seconds of silence could be interpreted by the speaker as hostility and simply amp up their belligerence.

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Wait, WHAT!??! Mom was right all those times that I should count to ten before responding!??!!? DON’T TELL HER! She’ll be insufferable if you tell her that science says she’s right.


Does it count if I’m yelling “Serenity now!” over and over for the full 10 seconds? :thinking:


But what’s your facial expression???


I’ve found if I pause then I don’t immediately fall victim to their faulty logic, and/or play into a “gotcha” question they’re setting up.

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It’s a look that says, “The next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.”*

* Groucho Marx


If you’re Samuel L. Jackson and you insert a 10 second pause into an intense conversation there is a 3000% chance the other person will back down and cede the point.



My response to that is; “I hear what you have said; I am trying to figure out how to respond to that.” (silence)


Does the author of this theory have any idea how long 10 seconds is,
The person you’re talking to is likely to think you’ve had an aneurysm.