Life is a series of continuous occurrences which we choose to either respond or react at each stage. A majority of the experiences we have in life are beyond our control but the fact remains that nothing outside of you defines you. The only person that can define who you are, how far you can go and what you can do is you. Once you have that definition, it brings you into a strong space of relevance. We have so much power within us to ride the waves of life. Yet, this fact is what a lot of people are missing in the workplace whether they are employees or employers. It is unfortunate that the power we possess to respond to life is not a skill many pay attention to. You may find yourself lost in a sea of everything and everyone else; and that is fine as it has to happen sometimes. What you should never do is remaining in that dark place. Going through a time of tears is inevitable but so is the light ahead. Forget about being perfect – there is a crack in everything but that is how the light actually gets in.
There have been a lot of cracks in every place we open to find resolutions during this pandemic era but within those cracks are the lights that will come in to enable us to be seen and heard. A lot of times we are either seen but not heard or heard but not seen. Other times too it gets blurry and we can barely see. Interestingly though, there is always something there in the little corner if you open your eyes just a little bit further. You will feel lost sometimes, allow that; you will be in pain sometimes, allow that; you will cry sometimes, do allow that too. But as soon as that happens, an avenue opens for you to bounce back. Do not hold yourself from coming back when you find yourself in this stage. This is because there is a rebirth in that period that will catapult you to a higher level in a whole new different way if only you allow it. The decision becomes possible when we nurture our minds to establish the fact that every dark cloud has a silver lining; that you can breathe life into your work, business, or career and remold it into a different shape just like a potter does to seemingly spoilt clay.
When it comes to communication, there is one widely researched analogy that to succeed in any kind of communication the premise should be response and not reaction but as humans we have the propensity to react rather than respond. When the pressure mounts and the stress is high, will you react and turn it into a problem, or focus on the outcome that you want and respond accordingly? Acaciahrsolutions explains reaction as quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A reaction typically provokes more reactions – perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished. It explains response on the other hand as thought out, calm and non – threatening. A response according to them typically provokes discussion – perpetuating healthy discussion (debate even) that leads to resolution. When it comes to reaction we usually do not listen or watch to the end of the matter before we act on it; whereas with response we listen or watch to the very end without interrupting, process the information and try to understand the context before acting on it.
We are in the sixth month of the year and the COVID – 19 pandemic that has changed the normalcy we used to know in our work life since the latter part of the year 2019 is still with us in new forms. We must stop reacting to this new normal and respond instead, taking advantage of the other opportunities that have appeared from the cracks. For instance, although live gatherings are no longer the norm because we need to physically and socially distance from each other, we can on the other hand reach thousands of people through virtual means. The advantage that it is less risky, time saving, and more interactive as anyone can place their questions, concerns or comments in the chat for the moderator to address them as the event progresses. This is unlike hitherto where it is only after the presentation that just a few people are able to ask their questions in a real live event either because of time constraint or the shyness of some audience with genuine concerns who may not want to be seen by all gathered.
In the workplace one of the things we must keep in mind is that offenses are inevitable and this also true in your personal life as well. Since we spend more time working, we must develop resilience to how we take the things that life brings our way. People more often than not do not think about the long term consequences of their actions or how their action will affect those around them. Reaction is a defense mechanism for people who often feel they are at a disadvantage or uncomfortable. A 2019 Healthline article explains that early humans were exposed to the constant threat of being killed or injured by wild animals or other tribes. To improve chances of survival, the fight-or flight response evolved. It is an automatic response to physical danger that allows you to react quickly without thinking. When you feel threatened and afraid, the amygdala automatically activates the fight-or-flight response by sending out signals to release stress hormones that prepare your body to fight or run away. The amygdala is considered to be part of the brain’s limbic system. It is a key to how you process strong emotions like fear and pleasure, anxiety, aggression and anger. Although reaction is the fastest and easiest way to deal with people and situations, how do you feel after snapping at a coworker, subordinate or an employee who accidentally stepped on your insecurities? Do you think things will go back to the way they used to with them after your anger is gone?
It is never an easy task to respond instead of reacting to a situation or an issue and no one can respond to situations one hundred percent all the time. However, as you keep working on your emotional intelligence (EI), you are able to overcome nearly all hurdles with that soft skill. The good news is that when you keep practicing the correct application of your emotional intelligence, it ultimately becomes a part of you and although reaction is what instinctively comes to mind whenever faced with challenges of such nature, you will think through the consequences of your reaction and respond instead. Emotional intelligence is a very important skill in leadership. Every leader must have and exhibit self-awareness, self-regulation, be able to motivate, lead by example, have empathy and demonstrate social skills in order to create a conducive environment in the workplace; and leadership cuts across all ranks in the workplace, not only at the top.
How do we become more responsive and less reactional? These are four keys that can help stimulate your growth to response instead of reacting:
When it comes to having confidence, it is not necessarily an action; it is the willingness to take the chance. It is about taking the bold step to respond instead of reacting to a situation, a word said or a challenge for instance. It is mainly about trying when you are clear- headed that the decision you have chosen is correct and that the most effective outcome will be birthed in responding rather than reacting.
Connection is that which makes a person like you: the way you smile and look at them, the way you demonstrate truth, the reality, and your humanity; communicating the needed body language, and using the right wording for instance. Maintaining a positive attitude is also one of the simple keys to employ in connecting with people. Active listening is another important input that draws people to you since you give them your full attention. People feel connected when they see your interest in them and what they are sharing.
Be calm and control yourself from interrupting when observing or hearing until it gets to the end. Whether it is a confrontation or provocation, remember to stay composed, still remembering your confidence. Observe or listen to the very end, processing what the person actually said and the context in order to respond with clarity.
As you remain confident, connect with a positive attitude and compose yourself instead of reacting, you create comfort for coworkers, clients, superiors or subordinates to communicate with you without uncertainty or being anxious when coming to you with any information they want to share.
Responding to life’s situation instead of reacting will cause a positivity that will carry you through your journey. Remember you are the only one that can define you in your work and you have confidence, connection, composure and comfort to help you succeed.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specialising in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Soft Skills Expert and Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group & Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.