I know that I certainly am… guilty of reacting in the moment when faced with difficult situations or people. It’s ego driven, full of emotion and inevitably has negative repercussions.
Reacting instinctively to trying personal or business circumstances literally closes down the options you have to positively resolve the situation.
So what’s the alternative? It’s to choose rather to respond to your circumstances, giving you an opportunity to think rationally and to blend logic with emotion. Although, at first glance, reacting versus responding may seem very similar, they are poles apart.
Management guru, Zig Ziglar, aptly captured the vast difference between the two, when in a radio interview, he posed the following question to illustrate the difference, “Did you respond well to the medication your doctor prescribed or did you have a bad reaction?”
We’ve all experienced the situation where we’re at the end of a long, arduous business day and we suddenly receive a call from an irate customer who just let’s rip about their unhappiness with our service.
The instinctive response is to react angrily in return and to be defensive, which often blows the situation out of all proportion. The right response (and the one to teach your staff as well) is to listen carefully, empathise with the client and promise to revert as quickly as possible with a resolution. If you do indeed fulfil that promise, you can entirely turn that negative situation around and secure a happy and loyal customer.
Years ago I was in a meeting to discuss how a company that had a buy back option in the business for whom I was working, would exercise that option.
The meeting was a tense one, with the buyback company’s representative literally laying down a list of demands. My reaction and that of my manager was anger and we could not understand why our CEO was not similarly reacting to this very provoking situation.
Instead our CEO waited patiently and only when all the buyback respresentative’s demands had been voiced, did he calmly respond, saying, “We have heard your requirements and now this is what we will do.” There was no mistaking that, ironically, it was our CEO who had the upper hand in the negotiations.
Social media platforms provide us with the opportunity to react instantaneously and express our views. We need, however, to be particularly circumspect using these online media and think carefully before penning our post, as once online, our communication is there for all to be seen.
Practise responding rather than reacting to Tweets and posts. Look at the hot water that Donald Trump perpetually finds himself in as a result of his often reactive Tweets!
Perfecting the art of responding is a life time journey and we’re not going to get it right all the time. When faced with a difficult situation, get into the habit of briefly asking yourself the question, “Do I choose to react or respond to this?”
When all else fails and if you have the opportunity, sleep on it before you engage.
“When you react you are giving away your power. When you respond you are staying in control.” (Bob Proctor)