Is it the Situation or You That’s Causing you Pain?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit._ Aristotle  A powerful quote of course and it begs the question what are your daily habits?  How well are they serving you?  One of my favourite tools in our 7 power tools for coaching is Reacting vs. Responding.

I recently had a coaching session with a client who had been struggling with the fear of others letting her down, what they say to her and generally being able to handle the challenges and pressures of work and family life.  In essence, she is a mini volcano waiting to go home to erupt.  Erupting by going down in the ditch ( my term) is how she deals with these pressures.

She starts off by making assumptions about what others might mean by what they have said etc. you probably know the drill.   One of her bosses’ direct reports according to her, tends to ‘fly off the handle’ because she doesn’t read her emails and ends up ‘attacking’ this client of mine-over information that she the boss allegedly wasn’t sent and should have been sent.

My client tends to listen to this person’s rants–says nothing- and then goes to her direct report to complain about how poorly she is being treated.  And the cycle starts all over.

I introduced this client to the tool of Reacting vs. Responding.  I coached her on  how to identify the difference between these two words (see below) and how knowing this difference and consistently practising one over the other will make a huge change in her life. In fact I shared with her how this tool is known to pull people out of their ‘ditch-living attitudes’ .

She was coached on how to respond  to someone known for not reading information sent to them, how to use her direct report more effectively and how to manage her own emotions by operating from a place of power as opposed to a place of being the victim.  Her comment during and after the session was, “wow! I feel better already! I can see this really helping me”

So what does it mean to react vs. respond?  Below are some definitions of the two and how they are used.

Responding to Challenges

Reacting to Challenges

  1. A reaction is defined as a behaviour that is fraught with subjectivity of the perceived offender or the challenge faced.
  2. A reaction leaves the person at whom it is directed feeling worse off than how they were found.
  3. A reaction is often always about the person reacting or something or someone close to them ( the ego or lower-self tends to reign supreme)
  4. A reaction focuses on the perceived problem associated with the challenge being faced.
  5. It also represents how the reactor sees himself: as a victim as opposed to someone who is fully aware that they have a choice on how to behave.

Now what about you? Do you see yourself in either of the above descriptions? If yes: what will you need to help you keep moving forward?

  1. what are you willing to continue doing?
  2. What behaviour would you like to stop doing?
  3. What behaviour would you like to start practising?
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