Strong Leaders Don’t React, They Respond

Questions and answers make up most of our everyday dialogues and conversations.

More often than not, we tend to hastily react to a question, a habit that can create a number of misunderstandings.

Good communicators and managers don’t speak in haste. They are deliberate in their thoughts and words. They respond, they don’t react.

When people take just a moment to respond to questions, they engage others on a deeper level.

In his book Fire in the Heart, author Deepak Chopra says that reactions are knee-jerk and come automatically while responses take some thought. Most of the time, we go through our days reacting to people and situations.

Here is one of Chopra’s examples. You’re ordering lunch in a restaurant and the server asks, “Which of our specials would you like, a salad or a hamburger?”

An immediate reaction would be to choose one item.

But a response goes deeper. “Does the hamburger come with cheese? Are French Fries included?”

Most reactions could easily turn into responses, if we took a split second to pause.

The habit of responding does not take much effort or time but it does require awareness.

As Chopra points out, many people opt for the reaction simply because it’s the first thing that pops their heads. It doesn’t require much brain activity.

The key is that something new will happen when we give ourselves room to think.

One technique that can help you move from reaction to response mode is “P-R-R. Pause, Reflect, and Respond.”

When we allow ourselves just a few seconds to think rather than blurt out a quick answer, our minds and mouths slow down. This can also shift the dynamic of a conversation. Slowing down in our communication can be a good thing.

Try to go through a 24-hour period using the Pause-Reflect-Respond approach.

You’ll be surprised that one or two seconds can make a real difference in your interpersonal communication.

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