How to Respond, Not React 

Jun 6, 2023 | Just Be

How to Respond, Not React 

Do you think you know how to respond, not react, in a way that doesn’t offend or hurt others? Do you thoroughly think about how to respond instead of just reacting when you’re put in a tough situation? If you do, congratulations! This shows you have emotional intelligence. But have you thought about why other people are quick to respond in anger than thinking of ways to diffuse the situation? Are you looking for better ways to respond instead of reacting? If you nod your head, this article will shed light on that. 

The Way We Respond Rather Than React Speaks Much of Us

Words are a double-edged sword. Not only do they hurt the person, but they also affect you because of the regret you have after you say them. Whatever we said out of anger cannot be taken back. Horrible words spoken to your child, spouse, or coworker can echo for a long time. That said, you need to be careful when you react in anger, as the words you speak can make or break a person. 

Now, the question is, how can you respond instead of reacting? How can you respond to someone without being frustrated? Here are insightful tips you can follow:

Pause and take deep breaths

The body’s natural response during anger is to hold its breath. It elevates the heart rate as we enter fight or flight mode. Taking deep breaths can help you relax and calm down. Now, I am talking about deep belly breaths, not just your normal deep breathing. A difficult situation calls for more effective breathing. 

So, take three deep breaths instead of punching the person in the face. Breathe through your nose, hold your breath while counting to eight, and exhale to eight. Repeat at least three times. It will help you stop hyperventilating. 

Go for a walk

If breathing does not help and you still feel agitated, go out, take a walk, or leave the situation for a few minutes. A breath of fresh air can help you calm down. It will also help lower your adrenaline. Take quick steps at a regular pace; note your breathing too. Once you have calmed down, think of ways to resolve an issue before returning to your home or the person you are angry with. 

Reflect on your responses

Have you ever reflected on your responses? Did you feel that it was the appropriate one? Did you react out of pent-up emotions?  Make sure that you think about them well before opening your mouth. Always find a way to hold your tongue and reflect before responding. It will lead to better results.

Blending emotions and logic

The best responses are made when facts are blended with emotions. When you mix facts and feelings, you can filter out the negative emotions that might impact your responses. Though you don’t have to deny your feelings, the goal is to avoid responding impulsively and regretting your decisions or words spoken. 

Recognize your choices

Sometimes we react because we feel like we don’t have a choice or think we don’t have other options but to do so. But when you think about it, we always have a choice! Whether you respond calmly or in anger, you make a choice. So before you react, pause, reflect, and carefully choose a good response if you do not want things to escalate further.

Think of how you want to be treated

How do you want to be treated and spoken to? Do you want to be yelled at or be in a calm, productive conversation? However you want to be treated, treat others the same way. You can never go wrong with this golden rule. 

Look at things from a different perspective

Before you make any harsh comments or react negatively, take a step back and look at things in a different light. Give the situation a bit of space. Ask questions if you are unsure of what exactly is going on. Sometimes, conflicts arise not because of malice but misunderstanding. Processing the information first before responding can diffuse heightened situations.

In Closing

In a perfect world, responding correctly and respectfully is a common practice. But we don’t live in one, and emotions will always be a part of the conversation. However, if you practice being patient and reflecting on your responses or reactions, it’s a lot easier to express your opinions and thoughts without crossing personal boundaries.