Respond , not react, to any situation calmly , that is what every Guru (Teacher) tells. We all know the basic difference Reaction and Response. Reaction being more of an impulsive action (theoretically speaking) taken without much thought in a given situation and Response being a more logical , rational / calm action taken in a similar situation.
When we all are aware of the differences and the apparent advantages and disadvantages then why do we still react under some situations if not all?? The second logical question which arises is that should all actions taken without much apparent thought be termed as reaction or to put in simple words can’t a snap action be termed as response ?
My experience has been that we generally react when we are dealing with a junior (or our child ) or a person we consider / perceive is weaker than us, someone we have nothing to fear from or someone we think will not react back. Whereas we respond very calmly while dealing with our seniors ( the boss) or people in power or someone we perceive is stronger than us. Someone who can cause harm to us physically or can harm our career prospects . We often come across people in our professional life who very forcefully state that they don’t take nonsense and blow their top at the smallest reason on the juniors but their behaviour is dramatically totally opposite in front of their seniors or people more powerful than them. In short , our angry reactions are generally reserved for the juniors or the weaker. I always narrate this example to the youngsters in the organisation to explain response and reaction. If my boss comes to my home and accidentally drops and breaks a glass, the action I take thereafter will fall in the realms of response ( I will be very polite and get the place cleaned and offer another glass to the boss) whereas if my child drops and breaks the same glass my follow up action may be totally opposite and termed as reaction . I may give her my piece of mind , a lesson on her absent mindedness and carelessness may follow. A different reaction or response to the same loss.
Our reaction and response also depends on the situation and the place. In most cases when we think we have something to lose we may respond calmly and diffuse the situation / resolve the issue whereas at a different place our reaction may be ‘louder’.
The best example of Response vs Reaction can be seen on social networking site where some people choose to react in whatever way they want because of their perceived notion of immunity since they are hidden behind a fake name / identity and their face is not on screen. Then there are others who just choose to stay quite and ignore .
Our experience may also help in invoking good responses even in snap situations. Since we have already been through a similar situation before hence we may not take much time in giving an adequate and appropriate response. This is so true for juniors , they get so used to the behaviour pattern/ reactions of their team leader that they develop auto response system.
People in the Defence ( Defense ) / Police services do feel that at times situations develop so fast that they have no option other than reacting fastest with whatever they have , to control it. Well I will term that reaction as Response because the Defence officers have a progressive and tough training regimen. They practice dealing with every possible war like situation, which can be visualised , during the training . It is this training which empowers them to make quick mental appreciation of a developing situation and helps in responding in a very fast time frame. (Some may say – in a fraction of a second). Same will be true for any professional, provided a constant endeavour is made to upgrade skills and gain knowledge.
Response is what is needed. “With so much of stress already in the environment, why add to it with our unreasonable reactions. Response is to a situation irrespective of who all our involved in it”.
“It should not matter whether the glass was broken by the Boss or the child , the action to resolve the issue should be same”.