Do I react, or do I respond?

It’s interesting how one word or a tone of voice can change a conversation between people. But something that also interests me is why do we take things personal? Is it the delivery of what is being said or do we need to take a moment before we respond? Is it the person speaking that needs to take a moment or is it a little of both? Taking things personal is something that I am constantly working on myself. I think in general people’s words and actions are not to intentionally hurt someone. I understand that not everyone has good intentions but for this post let’s focus on finding the good in people and assume that there is no malicious intent.

“Do I react, or do I respond?”

There is a term that my husband and I use for certain words or actions, we call them a “trigger”. I think if we can identify our own “triggers” and why they bring out a certain emotion in us it can help us to both speak and respond differently without taking things personally. There is absolutely no way for us to always be happy and not get a little annoyed like when we are hungry, or maybe need a nap, but I honestly think naming these “triggers” can help avoid unnecessary conflict.

“Do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

My husband recently had an opportunity to find out his style of communication is to lecture. This was a little hard for him to hear at first, but he is always trying to improve himself, so I think after he was able to discuss it and process it, he appreciated that it was brought to his attention. I’ve noticed that he has been working on it. For example, being on time is very important to both of us, but if we are getting close to the time, we should be leaving it causes him to feel anxious, so I do my best not to keep him waiting. I know that he is feeling anxious when he starts asking if I’m ready. When he is anxious he will of course have a certain tone (as we all do) or he makes the noises I lovingly refer to as his mild form of Tourette’s (I hope not to offend but if you know him, he really does make noises and blurt out words and I honestly think he can’t help it). I have noticed that lately, he simply asks… “let me know when you’re 5 minutes out”. I think he knows that it is just as important to me to be on time, and that I have not let him down in the past. But, I also know that it is part of his personality to check in with where things are so I try not to get annoyed and let me say it’s a lot easier to stay patient when he asks with patience in his voice. So this little change can help this exchange of words between us not turn into me taking it personal and feeling like he is saying you are going to make us late! It’s just hey, I’m checking in, are you almost ready to go?

I hope this little post will get you thinking, what small changes can I make in how I communicate, or how I listen, am I taking things personally when I don’t need to? Why does that word or statement hit a spot for me? Maybe try to respond by repeating what you heard so you can make sure you are understanding what the other is saying. Sometimes we translate things differently than they are meant to come across. And if we bring it to the persons attention it may help them in how they communicate.

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