In Part One we saw the difference between two related – but very different – terms, “Responding” and “Reacting.” Let’s take a quick look at how they played out for me personally in one particular instance.
There was plenty of room to pull safely into the parking space. Being too hurried and not paying attention as the situation called for, however, I didn’t notice the man coming out of the car parked in the next space over. I hit the brakes in plenty of time, but it gave the man a scare. He glared at me in a way that communicated being none too pleased (i.e. “if looks could kill”).
He reacted. Who could blame him? Now I had a choice; would I react to his reaction… or would I respond, thereby diffusing an otherwise uncomfortable (and potentially nasty) situation, and hopefully turning a potential enemy into a friend? I chose to respond. I immediately raised my hand with a sincere smile and mouthed, “Sorry, my fault.”
He then immediately responded with a smile and a wave of his own and said, “no problem.” Funny thing is, when I got out of my car, his words to me were actually, “sorry, I should have looked before getting out of my car.” Can you believe that??!! Actually, yes. And, while every situation is different and with its own individual nuances, the basic principle holds true across the board.
In the final article in this series, we’ll look at both the short and long-term results of living in “Response Consciousness.”