Respond don’t react!

This is the first rule of managing conflict at work, home or play. I speak as a certified conflict management trainer. Now there are many other steps to managing conflict and I’ll write about them in future days.

But to get started, all any of us needs to do when conflict happens (and we all know that it will happen) is to pause (the first step to responding) and take a breath.

Unless we’re talking about a life and death circumstance, there is no reason not to practice the respond don’t react principle.
This is true for all of our men and women in law enforcement; those who practice in health care settings; people in a committed relationship. Why, there is no place where “respond don’t react” doesn’t apply.

Responding demands some thought and a reasoned response. It allows us to look back upon our actions and not only support them but to agree that in a “do over” moment, we’d act the same way.

Reacting often has us wishing that we could have that “do over” moment. Responding insures that we won’t need it.

Conflict by definition involves an emotional factor. And many of us aren’t skilled at coping well while the adrenaline is flowing. In fact, research shows that a strong emotional trigger will take 90 seconds to fully flow through our bodies. This means that pausing, responding if you will, is a wise course of action.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it. Try it the next time that conflict appears before you. Tell yourself to “freeze” and allow a few breaths. Think about how you’re feeling and then think about how you should best respond.

Respond versus react often involves just a few seconds – but the outcomes can be world’s apart.