Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Responding vs. Reacting

Responding instead of reacting in the workplace (and at home) is powerful in that emotions are minimized, and your words become the primary message to the other person. In other words, your ability to calmly respond thoughtfully may leave the other person thinking more about what you said, rather than how you behaved.

How can we minimize our less-than-pleasing reactions? By preparing to respond.

If we prepare ourselves to calmly deliver a simple response when we’re entering a conversation where our buttons are likely to be pushed, we may find ourselves maintaining composure and generating an opportunity for a meaningful and productive discussion later on. This, of course, will include your ability to listen and remain open to discussion, which may be easier to do after a day or two passes.

Here’s an example of a response you might prepare to deliver in the most uncomfortable of situations: I feel myself reacting to what you’ve just said, and I’d like some time to think about it so that we might have a meaningful dialogue about it, later.

(Refer to my article: Speaking Up at Work for some tools that may help you prepare for further dialogue when you find yourself either addressing a concern or proposing a new idea.)


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