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Negative Self-Talk Eliminator


Reply, Don’t Just React

Part 2 of 14 from Communication Essentials

(continued from last week…)

Also what we need to do if someone does have a request of us is to reply to them rather than to react to them. Replying is softer and yet still direct. Just reacting is a common cause of communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.

A reaction often times is a verbal or nonverbal, off the top gut response. It is an indirect attempt to show somebody how we’re thinking or feeling without first giving it any conscious thought. That immediate reaction can be a good thing if the input is needed immediately. Yet the lack of forethought prior to communicating can be an issue.

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On the other hand, when we take a moment, when we slow down, when we think and reply from a conscious place, meaning you took a moment to think about the other persons request, not just gut react to it, both the thoughts and feelings that come out are softer and the majority of the time more accurate.

Reacting is quite often doing something in response to what the person has said or done instead of talking to them and thinking about it, slowing down, contemplating it for a moment and then going from there. When you just react, or you change the course of your actions because of something that they have said or done, you are no longer living your life according to your own design. Instead you’re letting the other person’s words or actions jump out and trigger you.

Mark Twain said, “Anyone who can make me lose my temper has control of my mind.” When you just react to someone that gut level reaction means that the other person has gotten a hold of your mind. Don’t do that.

Slow down and think. If your partner does or says something that causes you to have feelings you don’t approve of or don’t want, then slow down momentarily and think about it. Judge for yourself what’s going on. Look at those feelings. Don’t just give a gut reaction.

What comes out often is that the other person may or may not know why you reacted the way you did. They won’t know what, if anything, they did wrong, so they end up playing a guessing game trying to decide why you’re behaving the way you are or why you’re distressed. Don’t just react. Pause, think about it. If they guess wrong or react wrong rather than asking you directly what’s happening, both of you get caught up in a guessing game.

All this guessing is a breakdown in communication and makes it more difficult to understand one another. Instead of just reacting, slow down, get conscious. Think about it. Respond to what your mate said or did. First talk to them about it and then decide if their reactions are appropriate. And if you’ve got a feeling about it that was not a good feeling, you may want to express that to them and say, “Is that what you intended?”

When you react to the other person, and they react to your reaction, you have both lost touch with intentions and with this moment. You’re just shooting from the hip. We need to slow down so that doesn’t happen.

(to be continued…)

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