Monday, August 06, 2012

Communications to Mull About

“Act in haste, repent at leisure.” It’s an old adage, but still as true as ever. Knee-jerk reactions to problematic situations are often regretted.

It takes discipline not to respond to an irritation immediately, but it is almost always better to give yourself some time. Think about possible responses overnight and address the situation the next day. That way you potentially remove the risk of offending someone because you have had time to consider all the options, and can carefully choose the best one. It sounds like common sense, but many don’t apply it.

While you might get away with knee-jerk reactions in your personal life and make amends with an apology and a box of chocolates, in the workplace it is not quite as easy. You may be tagged as impulsive, quick-tempered, or inconsiderate if it has happened on several occasions, despite earnest apologies. And that reputation spreads. Such people are not generally sought-after as leaders.

A lot of time the situations that inspire the wrong response, I find, are in the category of “small stuff.” Sometimes it’s an emotional reaction to something that you should not be emotional about. Or it’s simply important enough to warrant the luxury of time and careful thought.

When I was a teenager, I would confront problems — and even successes — more emotionally. My lows were lower and, perhaps, my highs were higher. And that caused a response that today, certainly professionally, would be very different.

I have found that it is not worth jumping off the deep end for something that, in the great scheme of things, may not be that important, and I may not recognize that on the spot. I don’t mean to imply that I sometimes might not get a bit crazy, but 95% of the time, I apply the “mull factor.” And that moves me back to center.

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