Do you react or respond? The difference between the two can often be what makes or breaks your relationships and leadership influence. If you are like me, you have learned these lessons the hard way more than once!
Every day we all have questions raised, observations made, maybe even criticisms leveled at us as leaders. Here are a few thoughts to consider the next time it is your turn…
Reactions are emotional. Let’s face it, life and leadership are emotional. Don’t pretend it isn’t. At the end of the day, leaders are people, too. Further, we all share a great passion for serving the Lord in our unique setting. However, this passion can quickly become a liability and not an asset.
Reactions are quickly made. We feel challenged, maybe even threatened and, the next thing we know… we say something we only wish we could take back. I’m reminded of Proverbs 12:16, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve been that fool… especially in my younger days.
Reactions are “me-focussed” vs team-focussed. In other words, we take it personally and wear it on our sleeves when we choose to be reactionary. This isn’t the same as being genuine or transparent. The reality is, sometimes its just childish.
Reactions are usually wrong… or at least lacking in perspective. This is for obvious reasons. We simply haven’t had the time to view it from all the angles or see it through the right lens.
On the other hand are responses…
Responses are emotional. However, they are transparent and measured… a combination only prayer, processing with others and a little time can bring.
Responses are timely. In other words, they have been given the benefit of the time needed to actually pray, process and discern what may just be pearls of wisdom in even the toughest questions and harshest of criticisms.
Responses are others-focussed and team focussed. When we take the time to respond, we have the opportunity to get over and past ourselves and the “sting” of what was brought to our attention. We can then find ways to grow the team and ourselves in the process.
Responses are more often right… or at least made with greater perspective. Again, we vastly improve our chances of responding well when we refuse to react, or more often, overreact, in the heat of the moment.
Finally, simply refuse to overreact. I have sometimes taken the liberty to tell someone who has come to me with a question or critique… “You know, this seems very important to you so it’s important to me, too. And, you’ve obviously had some time to process it. Please, let me take some time to consider this and then get back to you. Thanks.” Then, I tell God all about it in prayer (really vent it out to Him), to calm down and get some counsel. Whatever you do, don’t be pressured (from within or without) to give an immediate answer.
Learn to respond more and react less and your relationships will improve and your influence will only grow as a leader.