What do you do? React or Respond? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

One thing is for sure life can be full of unexpected twists and turns. We can look back and remember times when we got unexpected news for which we weren’t prepared. If the news is happy it generally elicits a pleasant response, however, sometimes it is bad news and can cause more of a reaction than a response.

Can you tell the difference? The difference from a response and a reaction may be subtle, but can make a huge difference in the decisions we make. tI can affect how we present ourselves, especially when it is bad news. Listed  are some differences between the two.

  • Reactions are immediate, where a response may take a little time. If the news is bad, it is a good idea to take time and not to react too quickly. An immediate reaction may be quite different than your response would be if given a little time to process the news.
  • Reactions are often loaded with emotions; responses are more thought out. When you react; you don’t formulate responses. When you respond you have taken the time to explore possible decisions about how you plan to handle the situation. When you react, you often say the first thing that comes to mind. This is not advisable when you are in emotional state.
  • Reactions don’t need to 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, if you just found out that you lost your largest client. Your initial reaction may be one of panic. If you share that panic with your employees, they may fear for the business and for their jobs and cause them stress. Eventually, you will have to share the news with them, but by waiting until you’ve determined the best way to handle the situation, you can formulate a response that will minimize the impact and appropriately communicate the situation.

It is natural for us to react to news quickly. However, it is important to avoid the temptation to react out loud, especially when there is a lot at stake. By taking time to formulate a well thought out response will help you to keep things in perspective and to share with others when the time is right.