top of page

Are you Responding or Reacting?

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Victor E. Frankl.

I love this quote. I came across it a while ago, I'm not entirely sure where. But I remember using it as a screensaver on my computer screen for many months, to remind myself to utilize this "space".

Reactions to stimuli can be varied. Some of us withdraw while others engage. Some want the last word, others can’t summon up any words. But when it’s all over, we all want to have said the most meaningful words, reacted in the most rational way, and left the interaction feeling whole instead of conflicted.

What does this look like for you? In what ways do you respond or react to what's going on around you? Do you react with anger, frustration, fear or anxiety? Are you quick with a retort you later wish to unsay? Do you laugh out loud inappropriately at serious situations because they make you uncomfortable? Do you make quick decisions that may need to be revised because one or two checkboxes weren't ticked?

If you answered yes to any of these, don't despair. I’ve been there too. The good news is that we all have access to this "space", and we can learn how to utilize it better. And the more we utilize the space, the wider it becomes, and the more access we have to choose the right response that helps to build our relationships.

Here are a few tips to help you make the best use of your mental space to allow you room to choose the right response.

  1. Recognize your triggers. How do you react when you feel threatened? And no, I'm not talking about being locked in the same cage as a hungry lion, scary as that may be. I'm talking about what happens when you sense an argument looming, when you think your competence is being questioned, or when you feel you're about to be found out. Basically, any situation that causes your hackles to rise. You feel it in your body, your shoulders start to hunch, your stomach feels like it's all tied in knots, and it seems like the temperature in the room just increased. Recognizing what typically causes you to feel this way is a great first step.

  2. Decide how you want to respond. If you’re like me, you tend to reflect on your interactions afterwards and wonder if you should have chosen a different response. Well, here’s your chance. Decide now how you want to respond when you feel triggered. Do you typically withdraw? If so, you could decide you want to engage in the conversation, but do it calmly and rationally. Deciding ahead helps us know what to reach for in the moments when we are feeling threatened. But, it’s like developing new muscles. We need to train ourselves through exercise to choose the right response.

  3. Utilize the power of the Pause. Yes, pause. Sometimes it only takes a few seconds for a seemingly harmless question to ignite a raging debate. You must remember that the pause is within your control, so use it! Take the opportunity to think through your options so you can choose the right response. You will be thankful you did!

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Victor E. Frankl.



31 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Transformational Leadership: A Force for Change

In the dynamic realm of leadership, transformational leadership stands out as a model of influence that forges an inspiring vision, igniting a passion in team members to exceed their own limits. It's

2 comentários

Membro desconhecido
17 de mar.

Afternoon moment


Membro desconhecido
17 de mar.

Lovely thoughts


Get each week's blog post delivered to your email!

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page