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Learning to respond rather than react

I trust that this Heritage day has been a meaningful one, where we have been able to celebrate the beauty and hope held out by our lovely nation and all its peoples!

Here’s a question.   What is the difference between responding and reacting?

I believe that entrepreneurs and employees alike need to know the value of choosing to respond rather than reacting.

There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. A reaction typically provokes more reactions – perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished.

My first thought is that of a classic Zig Ziglar story that talks about the big difference one word can make. Zig said something like this; “Imagine going to the doctor for medication and returning for a follow-up visit. In one case the doctor says you are reacting to the medication, in the other case the doctor says you are responding to the treatment.’

There’s a big difference between responding and reacting.

So here are 6 ways to build the habit of responding rather than reacting. (Thanks to Kevin Eikenberry)

Consider how you may build these into a strong and healthy habit.

Think big picture. When you think about how this specific situation fits into your overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond.

Put the situation in context. Always consider the context – what is happening and how the next step will best serve you, the organization and everyone involved.

Blend logic and emotion. The best decisions are both informed by facts and infused with emotion. The goal isn’t to deny your emotions, but to balance those immediate emotional responses with thoughts and facts to fill in the blanks. This is the essence of responding.

Ask yourself the key reaction question. The key question is: Am I reacting? Simply asking yourself that question can ground you and give you a quick mental break to perhaps choose differently.

Recognize choices. Often reacting comes when you don’t know or think you don’t have any other option. When you realize that you always have choices, you can remember to consider them and the consequences they bring before moving forward.

Create 20/20 vision. You know hindsight is 20/20. Your goal in the moment is to mentally move yourself into the future and look back with imagined 20/20 vision to determine your best response to the current situation.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

Here’s to making more responsive choices this quarter!

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