We are emotional beings. It is part of our hardwiring. We base many of our decisions on emotions, coupled with some logic from time to time. Emotions add to the rich tapestry of our experiences and relationships. They can also impede our growth and success if we are not aware of when our emotions become reactive.
Our reactions are fed by our emotions; negative reactions are fed by negative emotions such as anger and frustration. Anger and frustration can be fed by fear, stress, or a lack of clarity. Conversely, positive responses are fed by positive emotions such as optimism, joy, and enthusiasm.
How does being reactive impact your success?
Most of you have had experiences with someone who is reactive. Think back on your experience with a co-worker, boss or a friend who tended to react to things negatively. What did you feel when you were around them? How often did you avoid bringing things up for fear that they would react and create more tension versus respond in a way that could lead to a discussion? Consider the impact that has on communication and relationships. People avoid those who are reactive and that does not lead to success.
Reactive people are impulsive; they tend to write others off. They demonstrate little self-awareness and even less self-management. Being non-confrontational or avoidant is also a reaction. Ignoring people or ghosting them is a passive-aggressive reaction. These reactions alienate people and shut down their willingness to engage with and support you, impeding your ability to be successful.
Indications that you are reactive:
You often make decisions that are rash and not well thought-out.
You routinely take your feelings out on others and damage relationships.
You have a strong need to be right minimizing valuable input from others.
Your team is disengaged and less productive.
Your physical health is being impacted by high-stress levels.
Four ways to become less reactive
- Slow down. Take time to breathe. If you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, it is difficult to think clearly. The best way to slow down is to take a few deep breaths. I know, it sounds simple but it works! Those deep breaths will reset you mentally, and physically. It may take a few more minutes for your emotions to catch up.
- Shift your focus. If all you see is the problem that will feed your anger, frustration, and stress. Shift your focus to the solution. What is possible?
- Avoid jumping to conclusions which can be another reaction. To clear up a misunderstanding the most effective way is to talk with and listen to the people involved. If you write them off without gaining that clarity that is another one of your reactions and reflects more negatively on you than the situation or people with whom you are upset.
- Check your perspective. Does it match up against reality? If you are leading with your ego, I guarantee you are turning people off, losing out on opportunities and disengaging your team. Allow others to have input and their opinions without making them wrong. Become more flexible in your approach.
Reactive behavior is habitual which means it can be changed with practice. Do a self-check today and look for opportunities to practice more self-awareness and self-management in your responses. Making a few simple changes to become more responsive versus reactive will positively impact your success, improve your relationships and health, and enhance your ability to influence others.
Sue Kenfield specializes in transforming complex human dynamics while helping leaders excel within organizations, teams, and individuals. We empower people and organizations to maximize their success by improving leadership, communication, and emotional/behavioral intelligence skills. We elevate performance, minimize turnover and improve the bottom line through our behavioral intelligence consulting, leadership and team development, conflict management, and executive coaching programs. Sue Kenfield is also available as a speaker on the topics listed above. Contact us to learn more.