TIME: The Difference Between Responding and Reacting

Posted in News, Insights, Motivational, Emotional Intelligence

Our emotions send us many important messages, that in turn trigger thoughts and feelings. So, it’s essential that we have a strategy in place to be able to deliver a rational response when faced with life’s challenges.

Our Feelings Send us Vital Signals

TIME: The difference between responding and reacting, Marshall Connects

We’ve all been in situations that stirred our emotions: A question that you weren’t comfortable answering or an email message in your inbox that really upset you. It’s both natural and healthy for your emotions to trigger a so-called gut reaction, but it’s also useful to have a rational strategy to prevent our emotions from being hijacked.

Google’s Re-direction Strategy

In 2008, Google released a feature on its email system designed to prevent an intoxicated user from sending potentially damaging late-night emails. When activated, the G-Mail feature forced the user to solve a series of math problems before hitting “send”. This re-direction strategy was designed to give the brain time to rationally process thoughts before a final decision was made to send a potentially damaging emotion-filled rant to a family member or colleague.

The 24-Hour Rule

Another self-management strategy that promotes rational thinking and keeps emotions in check is “Sleeping on It” otherwise known as the “24-Hour Rule”. This strategy gives you time to consider a difficult question or situation and then respond in a calm and rational manner, without being hijacked by emotions in your brain’s limbic system. Your thoughts move from there to the frontal lobe known as the rational brain, and this is where we process and rationalize our emotions. The “Sleeping on It” strategy gives you time to process a rational response to a difficult situation and can be the difference between writing and saying what you want, versus what you should.

Next time, employ a strategy and walk away from your computer before responding to that derogatory email. Tell the angry person on the other end of the phone you’ll get back to them. Then take a deep breath and pause. It’s quite possible the dynamics could change dramatically during this self-imposed time out. You then have an opportunity to implement a rational strategy that should prevent an over-reaction driven by your emotions.

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