Learn how to slow down your reaction time when dealing with pressurized situations, achieving better results and a positive outcome.
- When was the last time you reacted to a situation at lightning speed? Flying off the handle and behaving in a way that probably wasn't the most effective way to deal with things. I would say we've all experienced this at one point or another. For some of us, it might be something that happens all of the time. The thing is, the time between experiencing a feeling to reacting can be so quick. It can derail our responses to situations. It can be almost hard to imagine how you can break the chain between thinking, and feeling, and reacting, but it is possible with practice.
Sometimes, how we think about and view situations isn't objective. It can be hard to be truly objective when you're considering an event that involves you, because automatically you have a vested interest in that situation and the outcomes. Your thoughts, feelings, and emotions will be activated instantly and subconsciously. Generally speaking, we have a subjective view when the situation involves us, but we can become more objective.
Acting on emotional impulse means you're being led by your emotions, which may or may not be useful. It all depends on the situation. Of course, being passionate and excited would encourage others to be interested in what you're saying, and you'll be able to engage those people that you're speaking with easily. In this scenario, you're most definitely being led by positive emotions, but the outcome won't always be so positive if you're being directed by fear or anger.
What are some of the tactics that you can use to slow down your reaction time and choose how to respond? Step one is to take a step back when you feel like you might be reacting emotionally and you could be more objective. Identifying when this is occurring is one of the most effective tactics you can employ. Step two, when you start to feel emotions such as anger or fear, try to give yourself some breathing space.
Unless it's imperative that you react immediately, which it may be in a crisis, take 60 seconds to remove yourself from the situation and take deep breaths. This can be a hard habit to train yourself in, but taking slow deep breaths can lower your heart rate if it's crept up. And it can help with other physiological symptoms such as sweating and blushing. Step three is to give yourself time to recover. You should've had some space, even if it's just for 60 seconds.
Now let your body recover. Don't make any decisions and don't keep mulling over the scenario in your head. Just focus on feeling more level emotionally and physiologically. Step four, challenge your thoughts. Is there a way you can think about the situation that can create a better outcome for you? Although you may passionately feel that you want to confront the issue in a highly emotional state, consider if this is the best option in the long run? Will it help you achieve the results you want to see? Finally, step five, choose how you will respond.
You may decide that your original thoughts were the best course of action, or you may decide on another approach. Either way, you have now assessed the best option for you and you can react accordingly. This process takes work and isn't always possible. It may be hard if you're feeling stressed or tired. But when you start to feel your emotions rise and physiological symptoms start to develop, if you can get some space to calm down and slowly choose how to interpret the information, and then choose how to react, you're much more likely to achieve a positive outcome for you and for others.
So what could you do to help slow down your reaction time when you feel negative emotions rising? It could be a simple breathing exercise or taking a walk for a few minutes. And in some ways, the more simple the better, as these strategies are easier to use in the heat of the moment.
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- What is emotional intelligence?
- Watching for triggers and hijacks
- Finding flow
- Disrupting thinking
- Reclaiming reaction time
- Shifting perspective
- Listening and communicating
- Playing to strengths
- Collecting feedback
- Aligning intention and impact