Don't react, respond!
How do you deal with problems that arise in your life?
Do you react... or do you respond?
I used to react, until about five years ago when one of my mentors, told me how to respond and not react. Let me explain to you how I understand it through a short story I wrote…
Imagine if you will that there is a young guy called John. John has been working hard all day, and he is feeling tired after what can only be described as a long week. He has countered his tired feelings with the sobering thought that his favourite programme is on the telly tonight, the missus will be out with the girls and there is one ice cool beer waiting for him in the fridge at home.
As John walked home excitedly to get home in time for his favourite programme, he stops off at the shop to buys some pretzels and peanuts to round off his night of TV heaven.
When John gets through the front door, he goes straight to the living room, puts on the TV, quickly manoeuvres his way into the kitchen to grab his beer, and he was all set for the big night in.
With everything at his disposal including the remote control, he plumped himself down in front of the television and immediately became engrossed in his programme of choice. All was fine until roughly five minutes into the programme, the TV started to flicker, then it switched channels on its own before switching off completely. John got up out of his chair to inspect the TV, but no sooner as he had sprung to his feet, the TV came back on again, and to the channel that he had been viewing, no less.
John continued to watch the box, until about two minutes later when the whole sequence of events repeated itself.
The flicker, the channel hopping and then the eventual switching off itself.
This time John got up and was about to give it a whack when it came on again. John sat down whilst muttering to himself ‘This better be the last time for goodness’ (Why he didn’t say ‘sake’ I don’t know and possibly never will).
Anyways, John carried on where he left off with his entertaining visual spectacle, and again he became engrossed until he heard the door knock and then a voice through the letterbox. It was his best friend Jimmy.
Now as much as John loved Jimmy as a friend, his mate could be very talkative at the best of times. John knew his dreams of watching TV in peace were dashed.
Grudgingly John let Jimmy in. His friend followed him into the living and was going through his “hello”’s and “How are ya, son”’s.
When it happened again, the TV started acting faulty. Jimmy notices and says to John ‘what’s up with your TV?’
Before John could reply Jimmy shot across to the TV whilst saying ‘lemme have a look at it… I’m good with this sort of stuff’
Jimmy went to work on the TV, but his tinkering was clearly making things worse. John tried to intervene but his phone rang. It was his neighbour Jerry.
“Hi John, how you doing fella? Listen I just wanted to apologise to you if you have been having any problems with your TV”
“I have as a matter of fact…what’s it all about?”
“I have had a new sky dish installed, but it’s faulty and it has been playing havoc with all the TVs on our street. It’s been sorted now, so you won’t have any more problems. Apologies again”
John hung up the phone and looked at John, so he could tell him that the TV should be fine. But when he looked over he saw Jimmy struggling and before long the TV made a hissing sound before a white light came up and then the whole TV went black and a burning smell wafted through the air. Jimmy turned to John with a sheepish grin and a shrug of the shoulders and said
‘I think I broke your TV mate’.
What did John do next?
Well, he could do one of two things: react or respond.
React: If John reacts he is likely to do something along the lines of shouting at Jimmy, be resentful, demand he pay for it, kick him out of his house, maybe even have a fight with his pal.
Respond: If John responds he will take a second to think of the best course of action before proceeding responsibly. So, he may take a second to look at the bigger picture and think: OK, the TV is broken and that’s not cool. But in the grander scheme of things, Jimmy didn’t do it on purpose and it is just a TV, something material that can be replaced. He can then start to think about the best way forward is in regards to the TV situation.
As humans, it can be very easy to react as this is instant, and can be done without thinking of the implications. To respond is to be more logical and think the problem through first and look for solutions to solve the problem calmly.
Reacting is always the easy way to ‘deal’ with a problem, but the effects are usually detrimental. To respond takes a lot of work on reprogramming the brain, but the results are beneficial to all involved.
Respond, don’t react!