How to be Less Reactive

When we are emotionally reactive, we tend to be more stressed. We feel angry or often hurt because we react impulsively. Putting it another way, we overreact. Our perception of the existing situation confronting us becomes altered. This makes us prone to making the wrong decisions.

Correcting a misunderstanding is much harder than learning to think before acting. When in control of your reactions, you can better evaluate current situations, see better solutions, and establish rapport with other employees. 

So how can we stop being emotionally reactive?

1. Come From Curiosity, Not Conclusion
If you want to be more intentional in your response, slow your thinking down. Instead of drawing conclusions, ask questions to assess the accuracy of your conclusion. When you check your assumptions, stay open to being wrong, and assume positive intent about the other person, your interactions will take an entirely different turn.

2. Surround Yourself with Positive Thinkers
If it’s possible, surround yourself with people who are constructive in the way they think and feel. Whom you associate with has a powerful impact on how you perceive things. When a problem arises, and the folks you mingle with all give varying suggestions that result in cheerful ones, you are blessed. And you will statistically be less prone to stress.

3. Don’t Take Things So Personally
High reactivity often comes from elevated personal investment. In other words, when we take things personally. That’s a state of amygdala-hijack. First, breathe. Reclaim the brain. Second, shift perspective. People are usually clear on what they want from another person. When we are clear what we want for the other person, it allows us to take things less personally and be more deliberate. 

4. Learn How To Pause And Seek Clarity
This requires that you take some time prior to answering someone or stating your opinion. One of the most effective techniques is taking that simple pause: 10 seconds to inhale and exhale in lieu of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Consider asking a question to clarify what you’ve heard instead of giving an answer. It can save you from a bad assumption.

5. Think And Edit, Then Speak
Think, edit and then speak. Stop and ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say going to move the conversation forward for me, for them, and for the relationship?” If the answer is no to any of these pieces, then it’s time to take a deep breath and come back to it when the answer is a resounding yes.

6. Ask More Questions
A lot of the time, we are reactionary because we are making assumptions. Perception check with people you are communicating with to ensure the message sent is the message received. Ask about people’s reasoning or thinking rather than jumping to telling them what they did wrong. And listen: The power of listening is often the best communication tool.

7. Don’t Let a Bad Past Experience Induce Emotional Reactivity
A previous negative experience may form a prejudice in your mind, even one you may not be fully aware of having. Remind yourself that whenever you are reacting to something in the present, you may be making an assumption because of an experience in the past. Disconnecting our previous experiences from our present ones helps us stop being emotionally reactive.

8. Sleep Well
Your emotions and your ability to have enough sleep have an intimate relationship. Sleep deprivation makes you more emotionally aroused easily and more sensitive to stressful stimuli and scenarios (in a negative way).

Research has shown that enough sleep (6 to 8 hours) is essential to better cope with emotional reactivity in everyday situations. So when you need to stop working or whatever you’re doing because it’s bedtime, stop. The benefits far outweigh the cons.

Hope these tips help you on your journey to self-improvement and self-care. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other techniques that help you be less reactive!

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