CHOW #78- Responding rather than Reacting

Here is a challenge of the week. How do you Respond rather than React in the following situations?

  • Someone sends you a nasty email copying rest of the team members also on the mail
  • Someone abuses and insults you in a meeting by calling your idea as stupid

What has been your experience in any such situation? How did you feel? How did you manage yourself and what did you do? Or how do you respond in such situations?

Suggested Solution:

I would look at dealing with such situations from a two-pronged approach – one is about immediately responding to the situation at hand and the other one is to look at personal transformation from a long term perspective.

For the immediate response, the key is to create a space between the stimulus that has come in (email or the criticism) and the response that you are going to give – that space is essentially about being aware. With less awareness, the compulsive tendency will be to react strongly back and get into a negative spiral. A better alternative is to become aware of the feelings and emotions that are rising up and do not react impulsively. Some simple tips to bring awareness and respond rather than react, would be:

– Take a couple of deep breath before responding. Bringing attention to the breath reduces the emotional hijack because of ego.

– Write your response to the mail, but don’t send it immediately. Take a walk or break, come back and read your response once again before hitting the send button, especially from the recipients’ point of view.

– Instead of writing back an email, see if you can meet the person or have a call with the person. Listen to the person as non-judgementally as possible. This helps in better empathy and better connect with the person and reduces many back and forth misunderstandings that might happen with email.

– In situations of direct feedback/criticism in a meeting/conversation, first step is to disassociate yourself from the comment – not to judge yourself based on the feedback. Ask questions and listen to the other person to understand why he/she is saying that. Look at the comments coming from them as points coming from their point of view, not as a judgement on you. This helps to create the space for responding rather than reacting.

From a long term personal transformation perspective, view such situations as test cases and improvement exercises. Some of the techniques to help build better leadership qualities to deal with such situations would be:

– Daily meditation (even just the breath watch for 5 to 10 minutes will help) helps to bring transformation in the brain, nervous system and endocrine systems and make you a person of calmness and composure and naturally more responding rather than reacting.

– Active listening skills (paraphrasing is a useful technique) helps to build more empathy and looking from other person’s perspective.

– Appreciating diversity and different values that different people will have.

I know these are easier said than done – but these little extras are the ones that differentiate the extraordinary and the ordinary when it comes to Leadership.

What do you think?

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