Stop Reacting and Start Responding

Ever get frustrated and yell at someone? Get caught up in momentary excitement and jump up and down? Became defensive when someone questioned you? If so, that just means you’re like everyone else in the world, and you’ve reacted to something that happened instead of responding to it.


As our brains have evolved over the years, we have developed two skills we must understand if we are going to control our behavior.

Our primitive brain is reactive. The reactive part of our brain is about survival and immediate results. It’s also the emotional center of our brain. That’s why we lash out at friends, family, and co-workers when things aren’t going as want. We are letting our primitive brain run the show.

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Our evolved brain is responsive. The responsive part of your brain is where you think and evaluate situations. This is where we check on the driver who just bumped your car first instead of screaming at them for hitting you. We must control our behavior with our responsive brain.

Think about it like this, when you take medication prescribed by your doctor you either react to your medication, which is usually immediate and negative, or you respond to your medication, which takes time and is positive. Your behavior works the same way.

Here are a few ways you can improve your responsiveness.

  • Stop Yourself from Reacting. Easier said than done, but this really is the first step. Your instincts react. You have to recognize this in yourself and stop yourself from doing or saying what instinctively wants to happen.
  • Give Yourself an Out. Plan ways to excuse yourself from situations where you know your will react. It sounds silly, but having a pre-planned excuse tied to your emotional response can give you the ten seconds to 24 hours you need to formulate a response and avoid reacting.
  • Apologize Quickly. You’re going to react. That’s not an excuse; it’s a reality. When you do, though, don’t take your time apologizing. As quick as you realize what you’ve done, be direct and immediate to acknowledge it and show remorse.

Question: What do you do to avoid reacting? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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