Staying on message - how to respond instead of reacting

Slowing down is the first step in calibrating a response instead of reacting.

Staying on message - how to respond instead of reacting
Reacting or responding? You got to slow down to stay on message Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

As part of my training, I was observed by a certified mentor coach last week.

They pointed out that I might be too quick to get to resolution for my clients. They said that by latching on to a concept too early in the conversation, I might have steered the conversation down the path I wanted, as opposed to holding my client capable and letting them paint a fuller picture of the “issue” they wanted to explore. Guilty!

What an interesting concept… How to listen more fully so that the conversation flows from the symptom to the underlying issue. I did some thinking on the topic and found a few nuggets that might be of use for those of us prone to premature… reactions.

Slowing down is not just for school zones

Our society values speed, action and cutting to the chase. But responding instead of reacting might be better calibrated when we slow down. When we give our brain time to take information in, process it a little, and come up with a response.

Reacting often comes from a place of emotional impulsiveness and can lead to actions or words that are not well thought out. Responding, on the other hand, allows you to consider the situation and come up with a measured and thoughtful response that is more likely to lead to positive outcomes.

I spent over $300 in books for my course at Royal Roads and here are some tips I compiled from my reading so far. Oh, and I also asked a good friend of mine what she does to keep calm and respond in situations I know for a fact I would have reacted [badly].

  1. Count to 10: Taking a moment to pause and breathe can help you calm down and reduce your emotional reactivity. That's my friend's tip. She's so smart.
  2. Put a name on that emotion: Recognizing what you are feeling can help you understand your reaction and gain some perspective.
  3. Think on it: Take a moment to consider the situation and what the best course of action might be.
  4. Consider the other person's perspective: Try to understand where the other person is coming from and what their motivations might be.
  5. Choose a response that aligns with your values: Consider what kind of response would be in line with your personal values and what you stand for.

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