Not a moment too soon: Respond, Don’t React


Close your eyes. Go on, do it. Now imagine driving a car in heavy, slow-moving traffic. Picture a bike rider coming from the opposite direction, losing his balance & bumping into your car. What would you do? Did you imagine yourself flying into a rage & yelling at him? You’re not alone there, my friend. In fact, you are with the majority here.

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.

These words by Saint Francis could not have been truer even if they tried.

When faced with an enraging or stressful situation, most of us behave instinctively. We react. It is only when we have had time to process the situation & look at it from every perspective possible that we respond. The corporate world is no picnic in the park. Professionals across industries face unfavourable situations everyday & more often than not, end up reacting. The implications of the same can be quite severe.

So, how do we know when we are reacting? And how do we learn to respond? Whenever you feel like exploding, take a pause.

Picture the ‘Big Picture’: Think about how this incident would affect you in the longer run.

Compose away: A pause gives you a little time to frame & compose your reply. This will take the edge of the reaction off instantly & help you make smarter decisions.

A little context goes a long way: Consider all perspectives before you say anything.

Logical emotions: Logical decisions infused with the knowledge of its emotional implications are your best bet.

Swift introspection: Ask yourself the very key question – “Am I reacting?” And just like that, you’ll be in the perfect position to respond.

Choice choice, baby: At times, we react not knowing we have another options. A deep calm breath later, you will find that you have all the time you need to assess all available choices.

Mission vision: Look into the future. What are the events that will unfold basis the way you retort right now. Get that hindsight in foresight!

Rise to the expectations: In the workplace & beyond, your peers, your seniors & your well-wishers expect you to respond, not react. Consider that for a moment before you go ahead.

There are times when you don’t have the option of dawdling on your response before delivering it. Most reactions are reflexes, after all. A good example of this is the situations faced by ER doctors. Their reaction could cause serious, sometimes fatal harm to their patient. With years of practise & training, they have modelled their thoughts to always respond – no matter how much time they have on their hands.

How do you emulate that? Simple. Preparation & Thought. Being responsive doesn’t mean that you are slow, it means you are sure-footed, thoughtful & sensible. Study the factors that trigger your reactions & pay close attention to ensure that they are not repeated.

Get calm, take a brief pause, then opt for an intelligent, abet compassionate response.

It may take many tries but in time, you’ll learn to hold in the reaction & evolve it to a well-composed response. Just don’t be afraid to fail at it. Even if you do, you’ll do much better next time. One tiny step for you, a giant leap for your popularity charts!

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