Choose and Control Your Responses

by Sue Hornblow

The Theory:
The way we respond to events or triggers is habitual and based on our past experiences and our current mood or start. When we are feeling upbeat, energised and resourceful, it follows that we respond in an upbeat, energised and resourceful way.  The result is generally constructive.

Conversely, when we are feeling deflated, frustrated, tired etc we tend to respond to events in a non constructive or destructive way which not surprisingly leads to a poor result or outcome. The silly thing is…  we respond to the same event depending on how we feel… not very rational!!

Some events trigger us to respond in a negative way because “automatically” and unconsciously the event triggers a belief or value we have i.e. when we interpret that a person is questioning our integrity we may respond with anger.

Events can be a situation or another person’s behaviours  i.e. it may be the way they answer a question/ omit information we interpret as duplicitous so we may shut down the conversation (thus we miss the opportunity to explore  and clarify our understanding of the situation, perhaps preventing it from happening again).

When our automatic response is negative and unresourceful,  the result is bad. I.e. someone yells at us… we yell back and WW4 is on!!

Combine our mood and our automatic responses and we end up allowing ourselves to be controlled by outside forces.

The Practice
Through awareness we can plan and chose to respond in different ways.  We can practise pausing before responding and choosing our response, we are in control (outside in).
E.g. we anticipate the person will twist information/ lie/ challenge us/ etc

We decide that when they do we will… pause… chose our response i.e. make a respectful joke, calmly ask them a question, pause and repeat our statement (or whatever behaviour you decide would be effective for you)

  1. Reflect on a behaviour that triggers a negative response in you
  2. Decide how you want to act / would act when feeling great / upbeat/ optimistic
  3. Rehearse response
  4. Anticipate the behaviour

When it happens…

  1. Pause
  2. Act out your chosen action
  3. Notice the effect

Refine and keep practicing… Let me know what you have noticed… what changes for you?

Original Source:


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