There’s a huge difference in reacting and responding.
I would define reacting as having a “bounce back” emotional action to counter something which was just said or done.
I would define responding as having a more controlled and effective targeted response to something which was just said or done.
Do you react or respond?
I think most people would agree leadership comes to people who are responsible. If we break that word into two parts, we get response-able. The ability to provide a response to situations or in conversations which help influence either or both in a positive, productive fashion. Another way to say it, is when an emergency breaks out, do you have an emergency on top of the emergency? When one of your people has a break down, do you react and break down also? Are people reluctant to approach you because you have demonstrated emotional reactions in the past as opposed to effective, controlled responses?
You might be thinking, so when you say controlled responses, does that mean cold and non-emotional? No, responses can be very emotion-filled. The question is, does that emotion help or hinder the situation? Many times, people who react do so hap-hazard with plenty of emotion before it has even occurred to them or what the effect on others might be.
How to Address It:
1. What are your hot buttons?
You know what we mean by hot buttons, right? Those situations or comments which cause you when you are on auto-pilot to have an emotional response. Hot buttons can be bad or good. There are certain things which are said or done which launch you into reactive mode. Identify them, they are the programs which are running that can cause bad situations to turn worse.
2. Get mentally tougher
Not emotionally dead. I’m simply saying you should determine with yourself to exercise more control. Most people do not like the idea of someone else controlling them, but when you don’t identify and recognize those hot buttons, that is exactly what you are doing. You are not in control, your hot buttons and the situations which push them are in control of you.
Review and play the situations over and over in your mind before they happen. How does it usually go and how do you want it to go? When we rehearse the positive situation over and over in our conscious mind, our sub-conscious, which is in control of us most of the time, learns how to handle the situation different. We are re-wiring the hot button, so when it is punched, it runs a different productive response program rather than the destructive reactive one.
These three steps are the key to higher response and lower reaction. Locate and identify the hot buttons, decide you are making a change in how you handle them and then practice again and again. The more you do it, the better you will become. The most amazing benefit is becoming a better influencing leader and experiencing deeper, more beneficial relationships.