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What is the difference between reacting and responding?

What is the difference between reacting and responding?

Do you react to a challenge, or do you respond to it? These are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually very different in their approach to handling a problem or situation. In this post, we’ll examine the difference between reacting and responding as well as which of these best leaders use when they confront challenges.


Reactions Based on Emotions

A lot of people don’t know how to differentiate between a reaction and a response. A reaction often stems from your emotions: anger, frustration, happiness, disappointment. If someone gets angry with you for not completing something by a certain time or date, then you have every right to be upset. Reactions like these are normal. They happen in business all of the time; however, they can cause problems if they lead to hasty decisions that don’t take into account other factors.


Responses Based on Actionable Solutions

A leader that reacts to problems hastily often makes bad decisions based on emotions. When you respond to problems, you analyze them in an attempt to form a solution that addresses what caused the problem in addition to preventing future occurrences. This type of response allows you to draw on relevant past experiences while remaining calm, which equates to better decision-making capabilities. You’ll also be able to plan a possible course of action based on your analysis.


How to Move From Reactions to Responses

The Psychology of Decision-Making: Emotions are an important part of decision-making. In fact, our brains are wired to respond quickly to things that make us feel good, like food or money. When a problem crops up at work, it’s common for people to react emotionally, often based on what has happened in their past experiences or even a previous job—not from a logical place that would enable them to make better decisions.


Accept Responsibility

Many leaders try to save face by shifting blame elsewhere, rather than accepting their role in a situation. By doing so, they show that they don’t take ownership of a problem and can’t improve it. Accepting responsibility—whether you’re right or wrong—is crucial in building your credibility as a leader who will tackle challenges head-on.


Evaluate Options with a Clear Mind

When you react to problems, your gut instincts are often misinformed by emotions. That’s why it’s important to allow yourself time to evaluate options with a clear mind before acting on them. Once you’ve done that, make sure to run every decision through five essential questions: Is it ethical? What are my legal obligations here? What do I care about most—my reputation or my customers’ success? Who should I consult with before making a decision and why?


Set Outrageous Goals

Outrageous goals are ones that seem crazy—but only at first. These types of goals work well for a few reasons: (1) They are clear, specific, and memorable. The more outrageous your goal, the more likely it will be fulfilled; (2) They inspire passion and creativity in you; (3) They require you to take risks by thinking outside of your box; (4) They spur better decision-making.


Find out more here: Great employees solve big problems

Or check out this NYT article on how to be a better listener.

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