Do You React Or Do You Respond?

When faced with an issue or crisis do you react to it or do you respond instead? There is a difference.

A long time ago, I worked for a manager who was very reactionary. If something went wrong he did not care what anyone did to try to solve the problem but instead his only concern was that we were doing anything and everything as quickly as possible disregarding any desired results.

What typically happened in that case was a lot of time and energy was wasted as everyone was scrambling to fix things. Quite often, the situation became worse long before it would ever get better. Not stopping to think about the problem or devising a reasonable plan always created more chaos than solutions.

It drove me crazy!

In your job, your relationships, or in your life do you react to conflict or do you take a moment or two in order to breathe and think before engaging?

When you react, it is mostly a defensive measure based out of fear. You may feel as if you are at a disadvantage in the situation and there is an immediate drive to regain control. When you are in reactive mode, your emotions take over. When you react, it is often without thinking. It’s a gut reaction, often based on fear and insecurities, and in the end, reacting only makes things worse.

On the other hand, when faced with the same situation and you choose to respond instead, there is thought involved. Responding as opposed to reacting contains significantly less emotion and a lot more logic. Responding is a more powerful approach and it can change the entire direction of things in an uncomfortable situation or crisis.

Reacting will always cause an escalation of one sort or the other. When you take a moment and breathe first, choosing to respond rather than to react, in many ways it stops all escalation and prevents things form spinning further out of control.

A reaction is just that, it is an impulsive action thoughtlessly hurdled at whatever, whereas responding is ALWAYS a choice, just as long as you take a second or two to make that decision in the moment.

And that choice is presented to us all of the time. It could be someone nagging at us, problems with a co-worker or a friend, or a conflict with our partner. There will always be things outside of us that will cause friction, agitation, and tension, but if we learn to respond and not just react, we can make things better and not worse.

In a crisis or faced with conflict, do you tend to react or do you respond? Which approach tends to give you better results?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado


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  4. […] Responding as opposed to reacting contains significantly less emotion and a lot more logic and logic is what is often needed for successful conflict resolution. Respond… don’t react. […]

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