Just a few days ago, on January 3 to be precise, I sent a conflict resolution tip out on my twitter stream. In that tweet, I said: “Pause before responding. A short pause will help you gain emotional control so that you respond rather than react.” Only four days later, I find myself, again, reminded of the importance of that concept.T
The first few days of the year have been hectic, harried, and frantic. I have a packed schedule of meetings, phone calls, training sessions, and projects that all demand my time. On top of that, I actually have a family that wants to see me occasionally. In the rush of pressing and urgent task demands, I find that rushing to answer people or “deal with issues” can quickly turn into reacting to situations rather than responding to people.
And therein lies the problem: reacting to a situation may seem expedient or it might feel good in the moment.
Unfortunately, reacting rather than responding tends to push us (if not you, I'll admit that it pushes me) towards short, to-the-point answers that can sound harsh or uncaring to others (especially people with a more people-oriented perspective). This perceived harshness then reduces the relational “capital” it takes to make conflict resolution easier, smoother, and more likely to lead to a successful conclusion.
The issue of responding rather than reacting seems to be a recurring theme in my life and work. I find that I need to constantly remind myself of the concept in order to keep it top-of-mind and to apply it effectively. So, at the risk of being repetitive, I'm offering this encouragement to you:
Remember to pause before responding. A short pause will help you gain emotional control so that you respond rather than react.