Do You React or Respond? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Each of us can look back and remember times when we got news for which we weren’t prepared. Happy unexpected news generally elicits a pleasant response, however, sometimes bad news elicits more of a reaction than a response.
Do you know the difference? The details that differentiate a response from a reaction may be subtle, but these can make a big difference in the decisions we make and in how we present ourselves to those around us in the face of bad news. Here are some differences between the two.
- A reaction happens immediately, a response may take a little time. In the face of bad news, it can be a good idea not to react too quickly. Your immediate reaction may be different than your response would be if given a little time to process the news.
- Reactions are emotional; responses are thought out. We have reactions; we formulate responses. When you respond you have come to some decisions about how you plan to handle the situation. When you react, you say the first thing that comes to mind, and you aren’t careful, you may act on that initial emotion.
- Reactions shouldn’t always be shared, but responses can be important to share. When you are a business person, it’s critical to be careful about sharing your initial reactions to things that happen with others. For example, let’s say you just found out that you have lost your largest client. Your reaction may be one of panic, but if you share that panic with your employees, they may fear for the business and for their jobs. Certainly, you will have to share the news with them, but by waiting until you’ve had a chance to determine how you will handle the situation, you can formulate a response that is measured and that appropriately communicates the situation.
It is human nature to react to news quickly. However, it is important to sometimes avoid the temptation to react out loud, especially in front of others. Taking the time to formulate a well thought out response will help you to keep things in perspective and to share that perspective with others when the time is right.