You are currently viewing Calm Down Before Reacting
Written by Brent Knight, President of ISS

How many of us have ever reacted to a situation without thinking and calming down first? My guess is that we have all done this and likely do it to an extent every day.

Over this past weekend, I dealt with a situation that reminded me of a rule that I set for myself called the “24-hour rule”. The premise of this rule is this. In a situation that is sensitive or emotion-inducing, stop, breathe, center yourself and then wait at least 24 hours to respond. Now, this could be an altercation with someone, it could be an aggressive email, it might be something discriminatory or something of another nature that gets you going.

The reality is that we are not very functional when we are under the control of our emotions. The likelihood that we respond rationally is greatly reduced and we are likely to make the situation worse if we simply react.

By waiting 24 hours, we have time to reflect on the situation, consider our assumptions as opposed to the facts, truly think about what we want to accomplish when we respond, and finally, help come up with a plan and the approach to use.

In business, we only get one chance, as they say, so we want to handle things strategically and with caution. I have found this approach to work incredibly well and most often; it produces a positive outcome.

On the flip side, those who simply respond and lash out, only make the situation worse. If you have an hour or two, I would be happy to share specific examples of things that I have watched people do, including the person that I sat and observed this weekend as he dug a hole so deep that he will never be able to climb out of it.

In closing, there is a sign on my wall that guides me in how I respond to people and to situations. It reads, is it necessary, will it make a difference, and could it cause harm. Whoever came up with this was very wise. In the end, we need to make good decisions with a clear mind and seek an outcome that is positive when we can.