Sometimes in a rush or the heat of a moment, we can forget that we have choice in how we communicate with others. A big lesson for me has been discerning the difference between response and reaction in my communications. Reaction is defined as an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. Response is a reply or an answer. The difference between the two may be subtle, but can make a huge difference.
The way I’ve come to see this is, when something provokes a reaction in me, it is best that I settle and center before I communicate. A reaction is not under my control when it is an unconsidered or emotional one. Reaction is provoked by an action or feeling. A response, in contrast, is of my own making.
Here’s an example: if someone is upset with me, a natural reaction may be to lash back defensively. However, this could escalate the conversation in ways I do not want, especially in a work situation. My reaction is caused by their heightened emotions, not what I want to do. In contrast, a response is considered and dictated by me. The next time an opportunity presents itself, try responding instead of reacting. I think you’ll see its merits.
photo: Yuryz, Dreamstime.com