Successful and effective leaders know how to get through the most difficult situations. They recognise the role that feelings play in every situation and that their actions and their plans will determine the effectivity of their team members in the organisation. This is called having high emotional quotient or being emotionally intelligent.
Having high emotional intelligence allows individuals to better understand and figure out difficult situations than those who do not. Part of that includes being able to discern the difference between responding and reacting.
Responding and reacting are two very different concepts that many people mistake to be the same thing. While they may be similar in semantics, there is a world of differences between them, especially during stressful situations. Understanding the difference between the two can make you become more effective as a member of an organization, and will help you grow your inner strength as an individual. Here’s a brief breakdown of the definitions to help us get started on building a stronger core:
When people react, it is usually instinctual and done rapidly. A reaction is driven by your unconscious mind, leading you to do or say something without thinking. It is usually done when your brain goes into survival or defense mode, and you speak and act based on what you are currently feeling in the moment, without taking any long term effects into consideration. Reactions often result in messy and complicated situations, therefore, not encouraged when dealing with difficulties in the workplace.
Choosing to react rather than respond to difficult situations, will not only affect you individually, but your team and organisation as a whole. It can create a very stressful environment and it will affect the way other team members would function in the group. It can build walls that will affect your team’s efficiency because team members would hesitate to communicate future issues for fear of outbursts. Any lack of communication about issues that arise could cause serious damage to the organization in the future.
A response on the other hand, is a more thoughtful way of dealing with situations on hand. It would take longer to give, but it almost always gets you a better result. When you respond, you process the situation with what both your conscious and unconscious minds tell you. You take all factors into consideration. You weigh the pros and cons of what you are about to say and do, and consider what the best would be for everybody involved in the situation.
Learning to respond instead of reacting in stressful situations and environments will help you grow and strengthen your emotional intelligence. A leader who responds instead of one who reacts also creates a comfortable environment for everyone in the team. This encourages people to speak up and communicate every bump along the road, may it be as small as a pebble or as big as a boulder. Letting your team members become comfortable will eventually help you and your team prevent damages by identifying issues earlier and helps maximise productivity in the organisation.