March 30, 2015

Respond; Don't React

I've been listening to a lot of Zig Ziglar lately. This story from Zig resonated with me:

When you respond to life, that’s positive; when you react to life, that’s negative. Example: You get sick and go to the doctor. Chances are good that after an examination, she would give you a prescription with instructions to return in several days.

If, when you walk back in the door, the doctor starts shaking her head and says, “It looks like your body is reacting to the medicine; we’re going to have to change it,” you probably would get a little nervous.

However, if the doctor smiles and says, “You’re looking great! Your body is responding to the medication,” you would feel relieved. Yes, responding to life is good.

One of my biggest challenges comes from how to respond to interruptions and distractions. My wife and I have a bluetick hound named Buster that has the loudest bark I've heard. Blueticks were bred for chasing racoons up trees and then alerting hunters from far away. The bark is designed to travel through woods for hundereds of yards. Buster is great at alerting for things outside, but at times, it can be too much for me. Bark after bark after bark in a small house can become a challenge. She's doing what she was born to do and I have to remember that after a long day of work. It's easy to get frustrated and REACT by yelling at her when she's barking. The right thing for me to do is to recognize that she's alerting at nothing danger and that it's ok for her to act like a dog.

Respond; don't react.

Listen; don't talk.

Think; don't assume.

-- Raji Lukkoor

Also, while at work, interruptions are constant. I've done a few things to control them (e.g. closing my door when in a pomodoro and avoiding having my email open at all times). When an interruption happens, I've had the habit of just reacting without taking the time to listen to what the person wants and just answering their question with a negative attitude based on a lot of assumptions. Recently, I've been focused on giving the interruptor increased attention. If the interruption can't wait, I step away from my keyboard some I'm not distracted. If the interruption CAN wait, I give an estimate on how long it will be before I can respond (usually within 20 minutes).

I'm not perfect at responding, but I am getting better.

How do you avoid reacting?

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