How many times have you gotten an email from someone that sent you off the deep end? Well, that is a bit extreme. How about an email that made you react? Been blindsided in a meeting from someone or a group of people? Get a phone call from your kids school – that says, we need to meet with you about your child? Your mind starts to race. Your thoughts start to go all over the place. Well, welcome to the reaction zone. This zone is where rational thought sometimes gets pushed aside for the emotional thought. Reaction simple means a response to an event. We either react from fear or our past experiences. Some would argue that we react the things the way we always react. Ever reflect back on your reactions well after the fact? Ever wish you could have done it differently? Notice any patterns? For me, the answers are usually yes and yes… I think everyone can say the same. That is not to say that we never learn from the past and attempt not to repeat the unwanted stuff. I know I try, but when an event comes up quickly – I go to what I know best.
How do you make sure that you react appropriately and hopefully not do something you will regret later? For me, I have to make sure that I am thinking about the following.
- Take a few seconds before opening mouth: Okay, that is much easier to say, than practice. The other day, I got an email from a person that copied the world and put in print their displeasure to some of the work I was doing for them. Only listed the stuff they thought was off base and skipped many of the items they were happy with. It was late on a Friday night, I was already at home with the family – trying to enjoy my weekend. Normally, I would fire off a response! But, I was able to step back, reassess the message, write my initial response back and then come back again – later. Nothing good could come from a quick set the record straight.
- Move to a “happy” place: If you are upset or feeling bad when you first start to react, I will bet you that 90% of the time, you wish you didn’t. Your state of mind is important. Ever have air travel? Have any delays? I know stupid questions. You usually are not in a good state of mind.For me, I enjoy when it happens, I get to watch how people react. The number of upset folks, climbs fast. Most rational thought has left the building or plane. Now, in that state of mind, something important comes in that you need to respond to – I say get happy first. Being emotional from something else, pretty much carries over to the next item.
- Sometimes no response is the best response: This one is a bit tough, as we all think that responding is necessary. You have to really feel out the overall event to see if a response is warranted or necessary. I can think of a number of cases where not responding has been a blessing. Flame email is a good example. Not responding to someone baiting you into something – is best. My mom used to say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” We all probably heard that a time or two.
We get to practice reacting everyday, so maybe the next time you do it – we can react in a more positive matter. Or better yet, it can save you lots of wasted time fixing what you did..