Responding Instead Of Reacting

The power of responding instead of reacting is the difference between power and powerlessness.It takes so much more to sit back and take it in.  It is however only human nature to be reactive, but with age comes a greater understanding. Right now I’m learning to read personalities.  The power of this is enormous.  Despite the fact that we may be a type A or High I the fact of the matter is that we are all different personality types.  How we respond versus react is the difference between a positive outcome and a not so positive outcome.Being in a responsive mindset allows you to honor and respect the other person by first of all acknowledging you are indeed listening.  (Great article on the top 10 listening skills.)  Most of us are not.  We are reactive creatures and when someone is talking we’re not listening, but thinking of our own response or reaction rather.  I’ve come to realize and understand that people want to be heard.  They don’t want you chanting uhh hunh’s while they’re talking.  That is an obvious sign you are not listening and being reactionary.  People want to know you really hear them, feel where they are coming from.  In order for our exchanges to be wholly authentic we must listen without judgement, set aside reactionary ways of being and respond from our hearts.  Our response should be from a place of compassion so the speaker knows not only did we hear what they had to say we know where they are coming from and the emotion it’s evoking inside of them.  Also when we engage in situations that might be antagonistic responding is the highest virtue.  We take it in and do not react emotionally to what’s being said, but we understand the anger, pain, resentment of what’s being shared and we then are able to once again respond from the heart.  For me compassion has been my saving grace.  It’s not about me and never has been.  I’ve been empathic ever since I could remember and can feel people’s pain.  This is not something we ever want to take from them or not allow them the comfort to express it fully.  If we don’t allow it to fully come out in conversation I promise you a person’s anger, hurt and resentment will come out in other ways.  This is why it is so powerful to learn to be a powerful and fully engaged listener.  Not only does it make us better, but we lift the burdens of others with gift of listening.Check out the compassionate listening project.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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