David Brooks offers some terrific advice for making conversations count in Nine Nonobvious Ways to have Deeper Conversations. His counsel not to fear the pause
Most of us stop listening to a comment about halfway through so we can be ready with a response. In Japan, Murphy writes, businesspeople are more likely to hear the whole comment and then pause, sometimes eight seconds, before responding, which is twice as long a silence as American businesspeople conventionally tolerate.
complements a story I first heard told by Peter Senge. There's a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson at the link as well.